i’ve met the shoe bomber, and son, you’re no shoe bomber

July 30, 2008

The French have been around a long long time. They almost seem bored with the world, a bit weary. Even when they suspect there’s a bomb in the airport.

About 5 years ago, on one of our hut-to-hut ski tour trips, we had a layover in Paris, not sure if it was Charles De Gaulle or Orly. But we were wandering around the shops and cafes of the airport, when several commando types in camouflage bearing automatic weapons appeared, and put some of that yellow police tape across the hallway. Some of us were in shops on the wrong side of the tape, and a nice female commando walked through those shops and asked us to kindly step out and to the other side of the yellow tape. Which of course we did.

None of us really knew what was happening, so for the next 30 minutes we alternated between browsing the shops on the good side of our new Maginot line and standing next to the yellow tape, trying to see what was happening. Which was nothing.

Finally two guys in heavy work suits and helmets appeared dragging heavy equipment. The commandos pointed to an abandoned bag on the floor, maybe 50 yards from our protective, um, yellow police tape, and the new guys brought out their equipment, which seemed a lot like an upside down wheel barrow. They put it over the bag. Someone blew a loud whistle, and the commandos all plugged their ears. So, naturally, we ALL plugged our ears.


The guys in suits opened the upside down wheelbarrow, and carted off whatever remained of what was inside, the yellow tape came down, and we all went back to browsing and wandering on BOTH sides of the yellow tape line.

Now, answer me this–what would have happened in Chicago? In San Francisco? No, I’LL answer the question–They would have shut down the airport. They would have evacuated the entire terminal. I mean, what if it WAS a bomb? What if it was a DIRTY bomb? What if it was a vial of ANTHRAX?

But in Paris, well, they’ve been around for a long long long time. Remember Charlemagne? French. Joan of Arc? French. In France, bombs are boring. Shopping and browsing? Not very exciting either, but more exciting than bombs, I guess.

9 Responses to “i’ve met the shoe bomber, and son, you’re no shoe bomber”

  1. HP Says:

    Good story.

    The best part, though, is your off handed remark about a hut-to-hut ski tour. A hut to hut ski tour in France? Downright Cosmopolitan.

    And you live in Utah.
    Who knew?

    Sincerely yours,
    Impressed in Ohio

  2. Rachel Says:

    Are you sure you didn’t make that up? (That’s the question I actually mean to ask with every post, but I thought I’d actually write it down this time.)

  3. dug Says:

    rachel, really, of all the posts, and we’re up to 84 posts now, of ALL 84 posts, THIS one is the one you think i made up?

    please come back and comment more often.

  4. Tim D Says:

    Rachel, believe me this is how they do it in France. They even have signs up that say something like “unattended bags will be blown up”.

  5. bikemike Says:

    they should’ve just peed on the box.

  6. fish Says:

    Your Maginot Line reference was the key for me. The moral of the story for me is to not trust the french in matters of risk management.

  7. BotchedExperiment Says:

    I like it.

    You remember the other day when the truck flipped over on I15 northbound and snarled up traffic for 8 hours? Do you know why the highway was closed? I’ll tell you: it was NOT becuase the wreck was blocking all the lanes of traffic. We have to make sure everthing is safe and tidy, so we shut off all the lanes of traffic and clean things up right then and there, even down to sweeping up afterward.

    A couple years ago, I got caught in a massive traffic back-up on I15 sobo at point of the mountain. Took about 1.5 hours to get to Thanksgiving Point exit. That night, I happened to be watching local TV news and they showed video of the wreck that caused the backup. To my astonishment, what they showed was a pretty decent 3-way fender bender taking up the right shoulder and the right lane of traffic, and then police et al. blocking the left 3 lanes of traffic.

    Wasn’t it you and I that discussed adopting a WWII ethic for keeping the roads open after wrecks? Space bulldozers every couple miles along the interstate and push that shit out of the way. Then at 10pm (or even better, 2am) you can shut down a couple lanes of highway and tidy it up.

  8. dug Says:

    dan, i like it. we are on the same page you and i. think of the total economic loss from 4 hours of stopped traffic.

    now think of the economic loss of bulldozing 3 cars off the road in about 10 minutes.


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