Since 9/11, the world has changed and so have we. No longer can we board an aircraft with guns and ammunition, casually handled and stored under the seat. Nope. Today, we have to run a gauntlet of security guards, drug and bomb-sniffing dogs, chemical detectors and metal detector wands. Not that I mind. I think that security is necessary, but sometimes you have to draw the line.
In the case of former Pittsburgh Penguin player John Chabot of Maniwaki, however, the blue line was drawn closer to the net than comfortably necessary. Chabot was up north doing his civic duty training young ones in the fine art of hockey and good sportsmanship and happened to be returning back to Ottawa when a timely disaster struck.
A good friend and I happened to be travelling at the same time as the prestigious puck passer, and as good travellers do at any international airport, we lined up first for the security check. I watched the whole process of the guards checking for suspicious looking items through my jumbled computer bag and I passed through incident-free. The same for my buddy, and I commented on the fact that I had never ever seen the computer aided “sniffer” (for lack of a better synonym) go off at any of the airports I travelled through.
Chabot, on the other hand, managed to set off the alarms and immediately, the Checkpoint Charlies were on to him. Manual after manual were produced in the blink of the red eye and Chabot was interrogated with swift vengeance.
Where were you, what did you do in the last day, did you handle explosives, are you part of the National Guard, did you hunt or shoot anything lately, have you shook hands with known terrorists, are you a firefighter, have you or will you ever meet with makers of WMD’s, can you say philanthropist filibuster Phineas over and over again?
Chabot, amazed at the number of questions thrown at him from seemingly hordes of men and women in white, was overcome with the dreaded sweats and confessed that he did come in contact with young hockey players in a no contact game, but was innocent of all the other charges (so he says). My buddy and I, contained in the security detainment centre, (formerly called the pre-boarding area) tried to convince the hardened guards of Chabot’s fame as a Penguin and as part of hallowed NHL. The guards, undeterred with our cheerleading, proceeded with the lengthy questioning.
Meanwhile, the other passengers lined up outside in the tiny airport terminal, trying to see what all the fuss was about. Chabot, nearly exasperated with desperation while trying to be a good sport about it all, recounted every second of the previous day to the stern guardians of the skies.
Eventually, the answer came to light and it was deduced that Chabot was guilty of sharpening skates for the kids. Sharpening skates? Now what could possibly be wrong with that? Wouldn’t that make the hundreds of NHLers, WHLers, figure skaters and avid fans unable to board aircraft at every airport with a security check point?
The wonder of it all. Technology and the war against terrorism has hit home again, only, against the innocent game of hockey. I thought it was already terrible that we had to go through a strike that crippled a nation, forcing it to go back to the local arenas and watch amateur hockey players yearning to make it to the big time, only to be stopped in their tracks by the ides of terror. Good thing for buses or the game would not go on.