Saturday, September 1, 2012

Making Friends, starring my Napalm Death hoodie [Volume 3]

Apparently not everyone is as charmed by my Napalm Death hoodie as I thought: On the way to Singapore Deathfest, I was pulled out of line at Customs and Immigration and asked to go through a full body scanner.  Almost immediately after I walked into the building, I saw the ICA agent following me from the corner of my eye. I decided to play dumb - for me, the best way to not look suspicious is to put on an air of clueless nonchalance ("Security cameras? What security cameras?").  That didn't work, as the ICA guy stepped right up to me and asked me to follow him to the scanner. 

Not that I necessarily enjoyed the experience, but the scan was little more than a couple puffs of air, and then the ICS man was writing my name and the date in a logbook. No reason was given for why I was singled out for "special treatment," and I thought it best not to ask (though it turns out they were probably looking for explosives). It was much less traumatic than the "Stop and Frisk" encounter I had with the NYPD back in 2009. Actually, come to think of it, a black hoodie was partially responsible for that whole malarkey as well:

I've been visiting Singapore every 3 months for the last year (and at least once a year between 2003-2008), and this is the first time that I've been singled out for "special treatment." Well, the first time in Singapore; I'm so used to getting "secondary screening" when flying in the States that I expect it (and am never disappointed).  The difference is, in the States (and most parts of Europe) the screeners are usually more embarrassed than the person getting screened; their attitude can pretty much be summed up with "Sorry about this, I'm just doing my job."  Whereas when this happens in Asia, the unspoken assumption is, "Well, you did something to warrant this kind of treatment." [The "something" that you did often includes your race and skin colour.]

The whole experience left me boiling inside, but the last thing I wanted to do was draw any negative attention to myself. Usually in a situation like this I play it as straight-laced as possible: smile, speak in a cheerful but measured tone, and keep a smile plastered on my face. Answering that customs agent could have been my audition for Fox News anchor (or Prometheus Android):

ICA Guy: "What is the address you're staying at?"
Adriandroid: "It is a youth hostel." [pleasant smile]
ICA Guy: "What is your purpose of visit?"
Adriandroid: "I am here to see a concert." [pleasant smile]
ICA Guy: "What concert?"
Adriandroid: "It is called, 'Singapore Deathfest.'"[pleasant smile]
The customs agent gave a slightly surprised "Oh?" before letting me through.


Still kind of peeved about it, but when I got to Deathfest I got to get that aggression out and relax - well, except for not being able to bring my iced tea into the venue.  If only I had something to smuggle it in...

Oh, that's right.  Napalm Death hoodie, I could never stay mad at you.

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