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The all important job

September 20, 2012


Gentlemen ... (looking around) Ok, I see there are couple of girls too, so let me start over. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Washington Dulles Airport for your orientation to the career you have chosen – protecting America from the hordes of America-haters who show up on our ports and borders pretending to be visitors, students, businessmen or some such eye wash, with the express intentions of harming Americans and our way of life.

My name is James Jolly, and no you cannot call me JJ. I work with Department of Homeland Security, and I take my job very seriously. I expect you to take yours just as seriously if not more, because we are the first line of defense between the evil aliens and the good Americans. I'll be showing you how to recognise and catch these rascals, and how to deal with them ... all through this one-way glass wall that opens directly into the arrivals hall.

Now, as you can see passengers are streaming in and queuing up at the immigration desks. We never rush through this process because this is where the suspects are at their most vulnerable. They think we are asking them stupid questions. Little do they know that we want them to think we are stupid so that they let their guards down and … Baam! We pounce on them when they least expect it. Here, I am going to turn this speaker on so you can hear this conversation one of our officers is about to have with the two brownies in queue number 6.

I must make it clear that everything that happens here should happen according to the book. I don’t bring my likes and dislikes, my prejudices, nothing, when I am doing the job of protecting Americans. There are rules to be followed and procedures to stick with. One of them is random investigation. We pick a passenger, or group of passengers, totally at random, and go through with them – according to the book – as if we were dealing with suspects. Today, I have picked this pair of brownies for your education.

If you’ve been to a fancy university you may consider this word ‘brownie’ a racial insult or something, but I want to tell you … I … don’t … care. I am a decent fellow, I believe in freedom, equality and all that crap, but I also happen to be a proud American and a hardcore professional. My professional instinct tells me the brown race is more evil than the Nazis. Who was bin Laden? Right, he wasn’t a Nazi, or a member of the Ku Klux Klan. And where was he holed up like a rat? That’s right, in Pakistan, the country infested with the worst kind of brownies. So, if you want be politically correct, go back to your universities and ask them to give you a politically correct job. I can only offer you frequent run-ins with the scum of the earth. Now let’s hear what these Pakis are up to?

Officer: You are a US citizen? Man: Yes, yes Officer: This young man with you? Man: Yes, yes, he’s my nephew. Coming first time. Officer: And you are traveling on a Pakistani passport, with a US visa issued in Pakistan? Man: Yes, yes, we get visa after one year … Officer: Sir I did not ask you. Let the young man answer for himself. Man: Ok, ok, but my nephew very shy. Speaks little little English … (James Jolly in his microphone: Give him a C, officer)

Get this ladies and gentlemen: If a passport has a code C sticker on it, the owner of that passport, and the entire party, is going for a detailed interview that will be conducted in the next room by a senior officer like me. For your education we’ll have it right here on this screen. The adult passenger has been asked to wait outside while the officer questions the young man.

Officer: How old are you? Boy: 18, sir. Officer: What relationship do you have with the gentleman sitting out? Boy: He’s my uncle sir, brother of my father. Officer: Is he also your trainer? Boy: Uh … actually … I mean he sometimes teaches me chemistry. Officer: Chemistry … that’s interesting. And how long have you been in training? Boy: 12 years, sir … I mean two years, sir … I mean after high school, sir. Officer: And have you learnt all about chemicals, and their properties, and how to mix’em to make firecrackers? You know firecrackers? Boom baam bang? Boy: (Looks puzzled, smiles an embarrassed smile) uh, actually … you know … I mean … Officer: You don’t have to answer in a hurry son. You’ll get plenty of time in Gitmo. Is orange your favorite color? Ah … just kidding. Tell me, what do you think of Americans? Boy: I don’t know … I mean good people, sir. I don’t know any American, sir Officer: Well, your uncle is American, isn’t he? Anyway, have you seen any American films? Boy: (Going red in the ears) yy …yes sir, only one or two. Officer: Do you remember any names? Boy: (Sheepishly) No titles, sir. And no story also. Officer: (Cutting him off) You can sit there and wait. I’ll be back momentarily.

Okey dokey. You heard the boy. What do you think? Is he a normal porn-watching teen or is he the young apprentice sent to blow up something bigger than him? Like a building? Let’s see your hands. Hmmm, so all of you think he’s innocent. That is why my dear ladies and gentlemen you have been sent to me. So I can give you the eye, sort of like an inner eye, intuition if you will, to judge everyone who isn’t white … er and black.

Here’s what we are going to do with these two. We’ll interview the old man and if we are satisfied we’ll let them go through customs. In fact they’ll breeze through customs because we have already instructed the staff at Heathrow, where they stopped over, to offload their luggage and go through it meticulously with the help of dogs and machines. Which means that the luggage will get here by tomorrow when we’ll break locks if we have to and check every article inside. So if the old man’s interview goes fine we’ll let them go … to Canada, their final  destination. Yes, they are only transiting through Washington Dulles. But like I told you, we at Homeland Security take our jobs very seriously because 300 million Americans trust us to protect them.

What about the luggage? It’ll get to them in Canada in two days time. And let me assure you the two passengers will do just fine without their stuff. These Pakis are used to walking barefoot, going without a shower and change of clothes, and crapping in holes in the ground. I’m only stating plain facts that may sound like prejudiced views to you.

Awl I’m saying is it doesn’t’ take nuclear science to know these people are not like us. And yet, to be fair, we’ll leave a printed leaflet in their luggage informing them of the actions we have taken and explaining to them that the inconvenience caused to them is a small price to pay for the larger goal of protecting Americans.

Any more questions?


Masud Alam is an Islamabad-based writer, columnist and journalism trainer. He can be reached at


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.