I knew I was going to get stopped. The station was empty on late Tuesday night going home from work and the new subway security were the only folks there. I had managed to slip past the somewhat random searches of bags which started last Sunday. Over 3,000 screeners were hired in Beijing for the job of securing the subway system from terror during the Olympics.
My bag went through and I reached for it on the other side. The screener condemned my bag to be searched. Damn. I looked at the screener. She looked at me. What do you want me to do? Finally, a second too many, she finally said to open my bag. I opened it. What do you want me to do? Again, I wait. She asks, “What do you have in your bag?” Hello, it’s open. See for your yourself. I explain I have a computer, a camera, sunglasses, a cellphone, and an MP3 player. They say they are looking for something long and skinny. I say, I have nothing long and skinny. They get confused and ask me around to take a look at the scanned image. Are you kidding? Have you ever been at airport security and they ask you to come look at the image of your bag? Hell no. But I calmly explained the entirety of my bag to the screeners. After about ten minutes, they said I could go. But right before leaving, the head screener asked me for my ID number. I said I was a foreigner and only had a passport. He said forget and let me go.
I hope my encounter was educational for the subway bag screeners because they have less than 40 days to figure out how not to piss off tourists by confusing laptop computers with security threats.