Posted by: roamingolivia | December 20, 2010

Americans lose a lot of stuff at the airport

Yesterday at the airport (Reagan in DC if you’re interested),  I heard announcements for people who had lost a wide range of things: 2 cell phones, 2 IDs and a coat. At the next airport (Houston) there was another announcement for another phone.

I have never heard that many announcements about lost goods, and it’s not like I was there all day. It was that more or less every 5-10 minutes, there would be an announcement about someone having lost something. The coat was lost at security screening, but a lot of the others were left in the bathroom.

Having nothing else to do but read my 1,030-page book, or the 2 smaller ones, I thought about this a lot. I have two competing theories about this: (1) this is what the infantalisation of culture – in which the US leads the world but is by no means fundamentally different from Europe – produces: a whole society of people who cannot take care of themselves, or (2) in other countries they just don’t announce it on the loudspeaker. There’s also (3) – that it was a weird fluke and not worth thinking about.

I must confess at this point that I once left my wallet with IDs and credit cards in the pocket of a plane, and the people found me at the gate before my next flight, pretty much exactly as I realised I didn’t have it. So I am not necessarily opposed to or exempt from this infantalisation of culture, but then again I was a late teenager, so maybe I was still legitimately an infant (at least in the wider, French enfant term for child)?

Yeah, I can be more forgiving to myself than to the general public at the airport.



  1. Another suggestion is that with the new search rules at security – you have to take everything out of your pockets and run it through the machine – it’s much easier/more likely for people to leave stuff or get it mixed up. Especially when they get the full pat-down treatment.

  2. I guess? But you have to do that in other places too. And a lot of this stuff was found in the bathroom; just the coat was announced as being left at security…

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