Security Threat Milestones

Jordanian kids about to start college have no memories of a world that was ever safe.

Let that sink in for a second.

They grew up getting frisked at hotels. Their parents’ cars strip-searched before entering the mall. People they don’t know rummaging through their backpacks and belongings before going into concerts, restaurants, supermarkets. Embassies surrounded by jungles of Czech hedgehogs and concrete.

Can you imagine being a 14-year-old teenager who can’t keep any secrets, because your privacy will certainly be violated while your mom’s standing over your shoulder peering into the guts of your open backpack? Can you imagine never ever having been able to sneak anything anywhere, or having no idea what it feels like to just walk into a goddamn hotel? Can you imagine not being shaken when you see huge, ugly police dogs going around sniffing the stalls inside a bazaar?

I remember a world that was safe. Yet, even I can’t get over not having my luggage x-rayed before I walk into a hotel or mall when I’m traveling outside Jordan. Are you serious? There’s no one here to search me? What about that creepy-looking guy who just walked in? I don’t feel safe with him not being searched. At least have a security guy stand by the entrance so I feel a little bit better.

Sad, isn’t it?

That’s the bleakness of our reality.

I would not feel comfortable without all the security precautions. I am more than just happy to give up some of my privacy for the safety of my loved ones, and the safety of my country. I am thankful every day to the fact that Jordan is a country built on security. I pray that no harm comes to anyone within our controlled borders, shoved between Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and Palestine.

But I, at least, know what the awful political situation around us is making us give up. I remember a world that was safe.

Our neighborhood’s convenience store has a parking lot with two entrances: one is on the main road leading up to a traffic light, and the other is a smaller one around the back, leading into a small side street a few meters away from my home. Ever since I started driving more than a decade ago, I have always used the convenience store as a shortcut, going through the entrance on the main road and out into the side road. Last week, I was shaken when I found a security guard searching all cars before they entered the parking lot. The store has been around since we moved to Amman, and through all the shitty events that have happened in the past 15 years, it was never big enough to warrant a security detail.

So much for my shortcut.