Wednesday, 25 March 2009
A violent world - my Sunday afternoon
On Sunday I flew to Adelaide to stay with my recently bereaved friend. Dr P decided he would drive me to the airport. He chose the old route through Newtown, which has traffic lights every block or so. Naturally we encountered red lights 75% of the time. But he saved the $4 toll.
It took nearly twice as long to get to the airport, so I was feeling rather tense, as I really need to be early for flights, rather than just on time, or, heaven forfend, being late. On the approach to the terminals we noticed that all the cars and taxis were banked up, and that there were Australian Federal Police cars in evidence. We could not see very far head, and had no idea what was causing the delay. Having moved only a few metres in five minutes, I was getting very anxious, burst into tears (not a popular move) and then noticed that passengers were getting out of the cars, and walking towards the departure terminal. So, being in a bit of a state, I jumped out too, and joined other people trying to get to the terminal through the car park. We were not permitted to enter the terminal at the departures level, but had to go to the lifts, descend to the arrivals level, and then to go upstairs to departures. None of the Protective Services men appeared to have any idea of what was happening! You'll have to ask the Qantas staff, they said. Dodging the police cars driving past, with their sirens blaring, we got inside the terminal, and went upstairs, to find the economy check-in area taped off. We'd heard a policeman say it was a crime scene, but there was nothing to indicate what had happened. I managed to check into my flight and to get to the boarding gate two minutes before boarding commenced, and then flew to Adelaide, still not knowing what had happened. At no stage did Qantas give any explanations. The planes stuck to their schedules, but many people would have missed their flights.
I rang Dr P to let him know I'd arrived, and he then told me about the horrific bludgeoning murder of a man associated with one of the two bikie gangs, who'd been on the same flight into Sydney. In full view of passengers and staff, with apparently no immediate action from the security staff, men seized the steel bollards used to form check-in queues, and bashed the victim's head in, while horrified and helpless people watched. It seems that some of the attackers just left the area and caught taxis. What a world we live in!
There have been letters to the papers, saying bitterly that the security staff harass car drivers when they drop off or pick up passengers, and are so busy checking people's shoes and confiscating nail files, or (plastic) crochet hooks, that they are oblivious to more serious risks. Probably now security will be even more unpleasant for ordinary people just wanting to catch their planes, and then come home again.
Last time I flew, I had forgotten to remove my nail files, so they were confiscated by the Virgin staff, but on the return trip by Qantas, yet another nail file got through unconfiscated. Naturally, as soon as you get on a plane, you break a nail, and have to resort to carrying emery boards. Once upon a time you could knit, crochet or embroider while flying, but no longer! What do they do with all the nail files? There must be a mountain of them somewhere! Do security staff have shares in nail file manufacturing companies?
I still cannot comprehend that a man was murdered in full view of people at the extremely busy Sydney airport. How do people convince themselves that they are entitled to wreak such violence? How do we change such attitudes? I am sure stricter security won't solve the problem.