my own private harold and kumar sequel

Loyal orgheads know that a major research project is my ongoing survey of antiwar protesters, which is what I did this weekend in Denver. People often think that the big danger is in getting arrested at the protest. However, my strangest moment came this week when I  was targeted as suspicious by the security staff at the Denver airport and selected for lengthier search at the airport gate. I wasn’t terribly surprised – the whole town was under close scrutiny and I’ve been at many airports with tight security.

The strange part was the surreal conversation with the airport security agent. She was obviously “checking me out” with standard series of questions about why I was in Denver, and it got bizarre. Here’s a few clips, as best as I can remember them:

Agent: So, you’re a sociology professor?

Fabio: Yes.

A: Sociology – that’s the science of human behavior.

F: Why, yes it is!

A: Can you tell me about human behavior?

F: That’s broad. You have to ask me something more specific.

A: How about human behavior – at the security check point?

F: What do you mean?

A: You know *human behavior.* Like you can tag people at the gate.

F: I don’t know what you mean.

A: Yes, you can tag people with sudden, shifty eye movements.

F: Eye movements? I still don’t understand.

A: You know – *eye movements.*

F: I have no idea what you mean.

Thankfully, the topic was dropped. Then, we got into a discussion of my academic impact:

A: These surveys. What do you do with them?

F: Well, I record the data and write academic articles about them.

A: These articles, are they path breaking?

F: You flatter me! It’s not for me to say if I’m path breaking.

A: Well, are they path breaking?

F: They did get published. People in social movements have read them and they’ve written to me, and I’ve gotten some media coverage. And they’ve been cited by other researchers.

A: That’s sweet.

F: Yes it is.

Of course, the whole point was to distract me while they searched my luggage. Eventually, another agent yelled: “His story checks out! It’s just a bunch of clip boards and pencils in here,” and I was on my way home. Now, I’m definitely on some list!

Written by fabiorojas

August 26, 2008 at 4:03 am

4 Responses

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  1. Interesting. Eye movements. Cops now think that sociology is Paul Ekman’s stuff. I bet these are not good news.



    August 26, 2008 at 1:53 pm

  2. Does this mean you got a blogger’s pass to the Democratic convention???



    August 26, 2008 at 2:12 pm

  3. Sadly, orgtheory did not make the cut, though my co-author got a press pass via the U Florida student newspaper. I live vicariously through him.



    August 26, 2008 at 2:21 pm

  4. I find such profiling highly offensive. I mean, why should people wearing fanny packs deserve special scrutiny?


    Peter Klein

    August 26, 2008 at 7:42 pm

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