“People are tense. That’s why we’re here. We’re here to help. We understand tense. You’re tense. We’re tense, too. We share in your tenseness. Because we’re doing our job and our job is Protecting You™, sir. Protecting You™ from terrorists both foreign and domestic. Though mainly foreign, let’s be honest here. Foreign Nationals. They hate Freedom™. They don’t want to Let Freedom Rule™. Operation Enduring Freedom™ doesn’t mean to them what it means to us.

    Do all Foreign Nationals hate Freedom™? Probably not. But a lot of them do. Maybe most of them. Who knows? A lot of them probably hate Freedom™ but their lack of work ethic prevents us from hearing about it. For example. You may grumble about the security packaging of CDs—the bullet-proof plastic that you have to hack with a machete practically and then the sticky tape strip that only peels off in little pieces and is transparent so you never know if you’ve got it all off until you pry the CD case open and it snaps at the hinges—but do you act on your hatred of redundant packaging that keeps you from easily liberating your music? No you do not. You chop and peel and sometimes break the CD case in frustration, but you do not seek to explode certain record-label industry leaders or the proprietors of the packaging industry. Instead you ‘go with the flow.’ Most TerrorAppeasers™ and FreedomHaters™ are lazy like you in this way. They haven’t eaten of the fruits of our system. They don’t understand how Letting Freedom Rule™ is a JustRewards!® program for hard work. The JustRewards!® encourage the hard work. When you are free, it’s survival of the fittest. That’s what makes America so great. We’re a very fit society. Just look at our sports teams. We have the best football league in the world. That didn’t just come overnight. It was because of competition. Decades of it from Vince Lombardi down to Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Think about that. And that’s what we’re offering the world: Corporate Freedom Teams of Excellence®. But not everyone wants them. Not the Evildoers™, not the FreedomHaters™, not the TerrorAppeasers™. They don’t want to open their markets. They don’t want our fruit.

    Even though most terrorists are Foreign Nationals, we don’t profile. Let’s be clear about that. We would never judge a person by the color of their skin or by the fact that your name might be Muhammed Saddam or Mullah Omar bin Laden. Though it’s strange to keep names like that after, you know, the U.S. got al Qaedaed. After Pearl Harbor did you see people changing their name to Adolf Hitler? No you did not. So if we see a guy who looks like a Muhammad or Mullah Saddam it’s just common sense that we keep an eye on him. Which brings us to you and to Our Problem.

    To protect you we’ve established a compulsory StopReadObey™ system with the appropriate instructional signage and announcements so we can move you efficiently through the Secured Skies™. These signs are posted on many surfaces throughout the Lubbock International Airport Travel Space and written in English because you can’t spell ‘international’ without ‘national.’ It’s very disrespectful to fail to read English if you are in America. When you occupy a place you should understand the culture. And the most important part of any culture is Laws ’n Order™. Without Laws ’n Order™ there is lawlessness. And no one wants that. Lawlessness leads to Evildoers™. Laws prevent Evildoers™. Therefore there must be many laws in place to fight Evildoers™ if we are to win the War on EvilTerror™ and Let Freedom Rule™. And because of this situation it is every citizen’s duty to learn Laws ’n Order™. Why do you think we have so many lawyers in this country? They are our new educators. Ignorance is no excuse when it comes to Laws ’n Order™. Which, again, brings us to you and to Our Problem.

    Our security literature clearly states that provocative words and language are a threat to Secure Skies™. Words are weapons. The pen is mightier than the sword, as they say. When you threaten someone with a sword is it the sword that scares them or the idea of the sword? Exactly. You see my point. Ha ha. So when you are allegedly complimented on your attire by a fellow passenger and reply that you’re wearing a new bomber jacket it is no different from holding up a grenade and pulling the pin. It is like stuffing that grenade in the nearest child’s stroller. It is a crime of intent and the intent is to subvert Freedom™.

    Which is a big no-no.

    You have already compromised innocents even if they are okay. You have become a Subverter™, which is like a TerrorAppeaser™ and only a short step from Evildoer™. Like the Lord said to Moses, Worship not the Golden Calf lest ye go astray and make me angry and smite you until you are badly smoted. That’s Exodus, which you might also think about.

    You say that to the best of your knowledge no one has ever hijacked an airplane armed solely with a jacket and this may be true. But the fact that this has never happened does not mean it could not. Did the Chinese think that gunpowder could be a weapon? No they did not. A chopstick can be a deadly weapon if you know how to use it. Even your body can be a deadly weapon, but it would be very expensive to retrofit every airplane seat with restraints and so we will just have to be vulnerable to human agency until something happens that convinces our democratically elected FreedomFighters™ that it is just as sensible to secure passengers as it is to secure baggage. It is not a perfect world. Freedom has to be cost efficient. But this is not a criticism. Our democratically elected FreedomFighters™ are working day and night to make us Feel Freer™. Who do you think makes laws that Let Freedom Rule™? Who do you think is responsible for Enduring Freedom™?

    But back to Our Problem. This procedure is painless or at least falls within acceptable parameters of discomfort according to the streamlined standards of GenevaCon v. 2.0 as they apply to our FreedomFighters’™ Compassionate Agenda™. At most it can be characterized as a slight encroachment of your rights and personal space. Your clothes, minus your jacket, will be returned to you after your comprehensive examination. Please Assume the Position™. It will only make you safer and move us all just a little closer to Freedom™.”


1)FreedomFighter, Subverter, TerrorAppeaser, FreedomHater, Evildoer, Freedom, Feel Freer, Let Freedom Rule, Operation Enduring Freedom, War on EvilTerror, Laws ’n Order, Compassionate Agenda, Assume the Position, Protecting You, Secure Skies, and StopReadObey, are all trademarked by the United States Government and Department of Homeland Security and may be used by permission of said entities only. This trademark applies to other terminology and concepts not expressly mentioned herein, including but not limited to: Good, Evil, Right, Wrong, Liberal, Conservative, Crusade, Manifest Destiny, Bill of Rights, Individual Rights, and Democracy.

2)JustRewards! and Corporate Freedom Teams of Excellence are registered by the Consortium of Credit Manufacturers and the Association of Corporate Entities.

  1. 3)“Notice of Personal Inspection” is copyrighted by the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Administration. All rights are reserved. Where there is ambiguity as to the meaning of this copyright statement, the most restrictive legally permissible interpretation is binding.

Alexander Parsons is the author of the novels Leaving Disneyland and In the Shadows of the Sun. He is the recipient of the AWP Award for the Novel, a Texas Literary Fellowship, a Chesterfield Screenwriting Fellowship, and an NEA Literary Fellowship. He holds graduate degrees from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and New Mexico State University and is an assistant professor in the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program. He has also spent a lot of quality time in the Lubbock International Airport (LBB). And, yes, “Lubbock” and “International” do seem odd terms placed side-by-side.

Back to Freight Stories No. 1


Alexander Parsons

Attention Passengers:

Are You Ready for Operation

Enduring FreedomTM?

Notice of Personal Inspection©

From the Transportation Security Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

To protect you and your fellow passengers, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is required by law to inspect all checked passengers/baggage. As part of this process, some of you/your baggage are opened and physically inspected. If you are reading this note it is because you/your baggage have been physically inspected.

During the inspection, you/your baggage, and their respective contents may have been searched for prohibited items. At the completion of this inspection, the respective contents were returned to you.

If the TSA screener was unable to open you/your baggage for inspection because you/your baggage proved resistant, the screener may have been forced to break any and all locks both literal and figurative. TSA sincerely regrets having to do this, however TSA is not liable for damage to you or your possessions resulting from this necessary security precaution.

For packing tips and suggestions on how to secure your contents during your next trip, please visit our website at: www.EnduringFreedom.gov.

And remember, Smart Security Saves Time!