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Paranoia will destroy ya

Bernie Grauer

Terrorism paranoia has reached a new level scuba terrorists. Apparently, we must now examine all modes of transportation, no matter how ridiculous, as potential for terrorist infiltration.A recent article in a Seattle newspaper quoted a directive from the Coast Guard: “The current risk of terrorist attacks has been expanded to include scuba divers. Be aware that our enemy can swim underwater for great distances and attach bombs to the bottom of ships in our harbors and create havoc.”If I understand correctly, this means that a scuba diver is going to enter the water somewhere in the middle of the night, swim half as far as his oxygen will last in the pitch dark, while dragging a heavybomb. He will then simply attach the bomb to the side of a ship and swim away. It sounds ridiculous, but then so did suicide airplane bombers, so what do I know?This directive recently caused a bit of chaos near Alki Beach in West Seattle on a Sunday afternoon. A boatload of overeager Coast Guard Auxiliary officers stopped the local scuba diving class from getting back into their boat. Apparently, the head officer took the position that the scuba divers could be terrorists in training just like the guys who took their training in flight schools in Florida.It’s hard to tell scuba divers apart when they are all dressed up in those funny looking wetsuits with masks and oxygen tanks. So, the Coast Guard officer proceeded to herd all of the divers ashore onto the sandy beach, whereupon he called the local sheriff to come down and help him identify the various members of the class.The first potential terrorist was a 5-foot-3-inch, bald senior citizen who weighed 215 pounds. He recited his social security number, home address, phone number and date of birth. The sheriff entered the data into his computer in the front seat of his car and clearedthe man.The sheriff then moved onto the next suspect, a 5-foot-11 blonde model. By now, a large crowd of rollerbladers had surrounded the scene, along with a garage band that was performing on the beach that afternoon. This is when the real chaos began.The garage band was distracting to the officers who were trying to interview all of the potential terrorists in the hot sun. Then, a tenant of the apartments across the street from the beach decided it would be a good time to light a string of firecrackers on his third-floor balcony.Screams shattered the afternoon at the beach as everyone hit the sand. The word went out over the police radio and shortly thereafter, the television news helicopter was hovering low over the beach.Eleven of Seattle’s finest police officers converged on the scene with sirens blaring and mace at the ready.At this point, the scuba divers were deemed innocent as the attention shifted to the apartment building.The police had called in riot reserves and bullhorns were screaming. The officers were certain they had terrorists surrounded in the building.However, a thorough search of the building revealed only one apartment that refused to cooperate.Apparently, the occupants did not want to come out because they were each married to someone else. They feared being caught on the evening news, in which case two marriages would be in shambles.The police finally established that there were absolutely no terrorists in the building. By this point, the Coast Guard’s (taxpayers’) yacht was rapidly drifting onto the sandy beach. The tide was going out and within a couple of hours, the boat wouldbe high and dry. The Coast Guard officers shifted their attention to their boat. The police dispersed the crowd and the potential terrorist attack never materialized.The whole escapade did make for good entertainment on the evening news, though. The spectacular footage included exploding firecrackers, beached scuba divers and rollerblading couples in matching spandex ensembles complete with crash pads and helmets. In the background of the newscast, the garage band played on the beach as the sun slowly set and the evening ferry from Bainbridge was heading for Seattle, framed by the Space Needle in the background.The newscaster announced that a junior officer had made a mistake in issuing an alert that might cause some worry and that there was no truth to the story that terrorists were suspected of using scuba gear to blow up ships. The whole ordeal was a major inconvenience for everyone except for the garage band, who will probably get a record contract out of it!


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