Jewish World Review Jan. 28, 2002 / 15 Shevat, 5762

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

Shoes and food -- AS part of the ongoing war effort, or warlike effort-- the effort that is similar to but is not war, exactly-- we continue to find new things to worry about. Airlines are now making us take off our shoes, for example.

I know I'm supposed to be terrified of shoe bombs, but I'm more embarrassed than anything. What's going to happen next time I fly, and they force me to take off my shoes.

"What is that white powder sir? Anthrax?"

"Uh, medicated foot powder."

"That patch could be an explosive device."

"Not unless Dr. Scholls suddenly turned into Dr. No."

Sure, airline safety is important, but do security guards really need to know the steps I'm taking to reduce a painful callus from the ball of my left foot? Is that really helping the war effort? Of perhaps lesser importance, is that really helping me in my effort to flirt with flight attendants?

Now the government has issued new food safety guidelines, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, "that include everything from patrolling salad bars to checking whether waiters have criminal backgrounds." That's just crazy. Do we really need kids in camo and bearing semi-automatic weapons lurking by the Sneeze-Gard? I don't think so.

And everybody knows that waiters aren't criminals. They're out-of-work actors. They're only a threat to themselves.

Do we really think that terrorists are going to target the macaroni salad at the deli? I suspect that consumers are still more concerned about salmonella, food poisoning, or even fat content than pipe bombs in the lettuce.

Whether in response to an alleged fear of food, or to new economic realities, airlines are cutting back on serving meals as well. Many delis used to have signs by the front door that read, "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service." How times have changed! Nowadays, the shoeless hungry are probably greeted with a sigh of relief. If we showed up naked at the salad bar, with cash or credit card taped to our chest, we'd probably get a discount.

As for the airlines, I see a bright future for passengers everywhere. Certainly, we'll have to fly naked, without luggage, stomachs growling, but we will fly bravely, suffering in silence, because of course complaining now runs counter to the ongoing war effort-- the effort that is similar to war, but is not war, exactly.

Take that, Bin Laden, wherever you are.

JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Ian Shoales