First there was the bag . . .
Sitting unobtrusively; tucked behind a pillar, beneath a schematic of the airport.
Then there was the consultation;
Next came the tape . . . threading through signs and around the backs of amassing security personnel . . .
And soon everyone passing through the terminal knew a game was afoot.
As exciting as all of that might seem, from there on in, it was all about the wait.
“For what,” you might ask?
Why, the dogs. Of course.
After about 6 minutes of sidling inexorably, meter by meter in arrears (until we were hundreds of paces removed)—those of us tied to the terminal seeking out defensible positions behind couches and message boards (in anticipation of the certain conflagration, the twisted molten shrapnel, and the shards of flying glass screaming towards us in our cinematically-fueled fantasies)—we all began drifting back toward the tape and the abandoned bag.
Because through the sliding glass doors and into the terminal suddenly tromped a couple of canines; dogs firmly leashed to a pair of plump officers with “K-9” stenciled on their sleeves and backs.
Who can resist the appearance of puppies?
Thus was it that all escaping bodies gravitated back toward epi-center; drawn by the invisible pull of the dog’s presumed magical powers. The four-legged critters—perhaps oblivious to the wonder they instilled—wending their way through the parting professional mass.
“Clack, clack, clickety-clack” went their nails against the faux-marble floors.
Armored and helmeted and visored and shielded men and women in blue all thinking one thought in unison: “our heroes”.
By now it was clear that we were dealing with a potential bomb in our midst. A discarded bag, over by money exchange. Who bothers to leave a bag unattended for 15-20-35 minutes? An answer only a dog could answer.
After a fashion. In its own way.
It would now fall to the dogs, with their superior olfactories to determine, whether we, in the arrival lounge, were caught in the midst of a life-threatening situation or not. And all the inner voices this drama of pattering paws and sniffing noses unleashed . . .
“Damn that woman! Choosing this of all days to arrive!”
“Damn this rotation. Me having to be on duty at this precise time . . . “
The canine’s reaction to the smell of that bag over by the schematic would cinch whether a siren would sound, whether human feet would be sent scurrying pocketa-pocketta-pocketa-pocketa out those sliding glass doors from which the dogs had made their entry.
After considerable amount of human milling about—fraught with only a tepid amount of trepidation—the dogs were made to make the circuit inside the tape, around the pillar with the bag, and back to the main hub of human agglomeration. All other humans save their handlers keeping a modestly safe distance. But, upon their completed trek, they offered up nothing more than a yawn and some doleful eyes in response for the trouble . . .
The wisdom of silence; the meaning of non-plussed response.
The anticipation of a biscuit that, sadly (and unfairly!), never came.
And, so, the tape came down and the dogs disappeared down the pathway from which they’d come, and the uniforms dispersed in twos and threes. And our excitement for that part of the day in this chunk of the world was done.
Leaving us unintentional witnesses to return to our chores: waiting for loved ones to arrive, holding up signs for fares to fetch, heading down the escalators to the trains to catch back into the city.
Another day at the airport; another pastiche from modern life, post 9-11. Another bitter reminder of how much our world has devolved as it ever moves forward. A humbling reflection of how dependent we are on supra-human, technical systems and sub-human organic elements to keep us safe, secure, of sound mind and body in the intricate, peripatetic web we have woven (through our own ignorance and prejudice and thirst for aggrandizement and conquest and power).
Hey . . . you wonder if you explained all the above to a dog, whether it would ever completely understand why that paranoid New World Order rigmarole makes perfect sense to its human handlers.
Yeah . . . maybe before any of this idiocy ever got underway, we should have simply gone and asked the dogs what they thought.
Could we have done any worse with the answers they would have provided?
Sci-Fi Author Ursula LeGuin's Stories of Class War, Religious Dissension, Identity Politics and More