Sunday, January 30, 2011

Greyhound Story 3: Security

'Security' seems to be a constant drone in the background of our society. Everyone wants it, but very few seem to be able to adequately define it. Is it the feeling you get when confronted by a 9 foot tall metal detector at the airport - the feeling that at least the job of killing you will be a little bit harder for would-be assailants? Or is security the feeling of serenity gained from hidden cameras and undercover US marshals -the ability to forget that the only thing separating you and a horrible accident is a couple of men and a trained beagle?

The former appears to be the current definition of choice. Not only do we want security, we want to see it. All of our screening, our machines, and our waiting in never-ending lines amounts to a giant, inconvenient, but visible wall between us and our own terror.  

This is particularly true at airports. We build layer upon layer of security in facilities that really very few of us use on any regular basis. However, I often wonder what happens when 'terrorists' figure out that there are more than just airports in the United States. What if they realize that 99% of the rest of the country doesn't have metal detectors. What if they realize that there are also Greyhound Stations?

Luckily, Greyhound has already thought about this, and implemented a system! I wanted to say "security system" but well, that would probably be false. 

The System

Step 1: Before you get on the bus you have to get in a big boarding line inside the building. This allows them to check your ticket and make sure that you are getting on the right bus. Once checked, you go outside and board.

Step 2: Sometimes, a security guard will come check your bags and carry-ons while you wait in this big line. The probability of this happening seems to involve a complex equation where the outside temperature is multiplied by the batting average of the Red Sox and then divided by the year. So roughly 10%. 

Step 3: The security guard will roll a cart around the line, asking each person to put their bag on it. She will rummage around, looking for contraband.  You can actually put your bag on the cart. Or you can step out of line and go hide in the bathroom until she passes you. Or you can hide one of your bags behind your feet in order to speed things up.  

Step 4: For this scenario, lets pretend that you actually give her your bags. She goes through everything, and finds contraband. A knife!! Oh no it looks like she will take it, and you immediately put on your sad face.

Step 5: But no, the security lady says you have options! 
A). She takes your knife.
B). You pay a $10 fine to her, in cash, and then you can keep your knife. 

Step 6: You pay the $10 to the nice lady, and she sticks the knife right back into your bag where she found it. You might think this is a bribe, but she clearly says the word "fine". Fines only happen if you do something wrong and unsafe, and therefore she is entirely justified in making you pay a penalty. And she puts the money in her pocket because it will be safe there while she checks the other passengers.

Step 7: Well, she actually only gets half way through the line before the bus needs to go, so she just gives up. The people hiding in bathroom can come out now. 

Step 8: Get onto the bus. With your knife. 


  1. The line between "bribe" and "fine" has always been blurry to me.


  2. Which would explain why you are always slipping me money for "favors." Sexy favors.

  3. An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment.
    There's no doubt that that you need to write more on this subject, it might not be a taboo matter but generally people do not speak about these topics. To the next! Best wishes!!

    closed circuit cameras

  4. Haha, oh crap...closed circuit cameras are watching my every move.