Ten hours, four sets of security, three new stamps in my passport, two take-offs, two movies, and two landings, the bi-annual family vacation to Lyd had begun. For most people the most eye opening part of a trip is the actual trip, the activities, people, events, but for me things changed with each security checkpoint.
First stop: US security. Now, even thinking about the TSA my hands start to sweat, but in 2010, it didn’t seem to phase me. Walk through the scanner, grab my bags, put on my shoes, and wait for my the rest of the family and the plane.
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Second stop: German security. We get to the airport and right away meet with old family friends. It was nice, but I only understood about half of what was said in German. After a while I gave up and resorted to people watching. Security was fine, and I noticed the security officers smiled more.
Third stop: Israeli security. This is where I start to notice little things. My dad also has Israeli citizenship, so we go through the short line reserved for Israeli citizens. The line moves swiftly, and we get to the counter. The officer spent an awfully long time looking at our name. It isn’t David or Geva, it is Eljamal, clearly Arabic. That entire endeavor took much longer than anyone else’s, and we needed our bags. Usually, you just grab the bags and go, not today. My dad took the clothes bag from my mom and she took the gift bag. As we walked out, my mom and brother moved away from me and my dad. Then I saw two Israeli soldiers next to a giant scanner. My dad and I looked Arab, my mom and brother didn’t. We took the boring suitcase in case we were stopped by security.
We took a break from security checks for a while. Hung out with family, friends, ate too much, and recovered from jet-lag. Then on to the next country. By road.
Fourth stop: Jordanian security. Chaos. That sums everything up. But was the one place where I didn’t feel weird at security. I fit in, especially compared to the German backpackers we saw.
Fifth stop: Israeli security. Completely different from Jordan, neat lines, no one rushing the counter, waving a passport, and nothing got through security without being scanned, not even a chicken shawarma.
Sixth stop: Israeli security. Driving to the airport, we were pulled over because we were Arab. Then, in the airport my family got special stickers on the back of our passports. Everyone around us had white ones, we had yellow. Then followed by a routine emptying of our suitcases onto a counter.
Seventh stop: US security. The wonderful random security checks got us again. My dad was chosen to have his hands swabbed for any chemical residue. Funny thing, he’s a chemist. But it was the last security check we had to go through.
Looking back on this entire trip, I wonder why I keep traveling. I know that almost every security point is going to be a problem for me. The random checks, the profiling people try to ignore, and the constant sense of being unwanted. But then I remember Jordan. I fit in. Sure, it was chaotic, but I was part of the chaos, for once I wasn’t like the German backpackers. I guess I will keep traveling until most security points make me feel like I did at Jordan’s.
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