Monday, 3 December 2007

Airports and Autism

First, I just want to apologise to Andy (a regular reader of my other blog) who couldn't comment on this blog.  This has now been fixed.

It has been 3 days since I landed in the UK from my holiday in Gran Canaria, and I wanted to write a short piece about how airports make me feel. And more importantly, how location plays a role in how I feel.

When I left the UK, I had to put all my things in a plastic tray, have them scanned, and then be patted down to make sure I had nothing dangerous on me. Now, this wasn't helped by the fact that the two men at security both looked angry, which doesn't put me at ease, because I immediately think I've done something wrong, which I know I haven't. And I hate the pat downs, because it's someone I don't know touching me. A lot. And I can't complain about it because otherwise they will think I am guilty of something. I really don't like going through the UK security checks because of these things. Also, they wanted to check the soles of my shoes, which meant me standing on one leg, which I can't do very well.

Now, in Gran Canaria (A Spanish owned island) things are different. We had to queue for plastic trays to put our things in, but I forgot that, and put my bag in it. The security woman told me very calmly and nicely that it wasn't for my bag, it was for my watch, and anything in my pocket. When it came to checking my stuff, they didn't even get angry when my friend's coat got stuck in the rollers, instead they helped him. The whole thing made me feel totally at ease, whilst still making me feel secure.

Their checks were no less thorough than in the UK, they still metal dectected us, but instead of pat downs, they used handheld metal detectors. And instead of looking angry, they were helpful. I didn't feel scared, or worried, or nervous in Gran Canaria, but the UK immediately makes you feel scared that maybe they'll think you're a terrorist because of something you might unconsciously do.

3 comments:

Andy said...

Thanks for allowing me to comment.

I haven't travelled to so many different countries but I found the rudest, most unhelpful people at airports have got to be those in New York. Downright rude and they really couldn't give a shit about you or your possessions.

Just so you know, I feel the same about people in uniform - even if I've done nothing wrong I always feel they're going to 'get me' for something. Maybe it's a trust thing and I have none?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for allowing me to comment.

I haven't travelled to so many different countries but I found the rudest, most unhelpful people at airports have got to be those in New York. Downright rude and they really couldn't give a shit about you or your possessions.

Just so you know, I feel the same about people in uniform - even if I've done nothing wrong I always feel they're going to 'get me' for something. Maybe it's a trust thing and I have none?

Dave said...

Well, I haven't been to America, but I believe it's pretty much the case across the states that they are very very harsh.

It's actually not the uniform that scares me. It's the attitude. As someone who has observed and studied body language in a poor attempt to mimic neurotypicals, I have learnt what a lot of it means. And I find that British airport security give off very defensive body language, whereas the Canarian security give off a relaxed yet authorative body language. We could learn a lot from their culture. You know not to mess them about, but you also know that they are there to help if you get in a bit of a mess...