Sitting around LAX (Los Angeles airport) for a substantial amount of time, I kept hearing warnings, repeated in several languages.
Do not leave your bags unattended! The Transportation Security Administration urges you to keep your bags in your sight at all times.
You should not accept bags from strangers. Please inform the Transportation Security Administration if anyone asks you to take a bag.
This airport does not support solicitors (beggars). You do not have to give money to solicitors. This airport does not support their activities. I repeat...
You should not loiter in airport areas. Please go directly to your airline counter to establish your validity as a passenger.
This zone is for loading and unloading passengers only. Do not leave your car unattended or it will be towed. (this announcement was made outside)
These announcements played repeatedly in Chinese, English, French, Japanese and Spanish.
Upon my arrival and through navigating Beijing and later, Tianhe airports in China, I heard gentle music playing. Not a single dire warning.
Upon boarding planes in America, invariably a pleasant voice will intone notifications, among them: “The captain has turned on the seatbelt sign.” Contrast that with “The seatbelt sign is on, please remain in your seat with your belt fastened”, heard on Chinese flights.
Why do Americans feel the need for constant authority? Why emphasize that THE CAPTAIN has turned on the seatbelt sign? Would that sign be any less important if a lesser person had turned it on?
What about leaving bags unattended? What kind of traveler would be so negligent as to leave their bags behind? And if they should decide on that need, why be constantly admonished against it?
Who needs warnings against giving money to beggars?
How to contrast the parking issue, when in China people pretty much take every liberty possible regarding parking and driving? Still: why constantly berate against stopping and parking?
Interesting note about parking: along a stretch of 'no parking' – as indicated by the red painted curb and the constant warnings, I saw a government vehicle parked: nobody sitting inside or anywhere around it. How is it that the government can violate the rules ordinary citizens are warned against?
While it is true the average traveler probably does not pay much attention to those recordings, being as they are going about the business of traveling, I have to wonder what the point is to generate all of these warnings?
To make one feel safe?
To make on feel stupid?
I felt like I was in a police state the whole time I waiting in LAX. That impression was further borne out by police riding their bikes through the terminal, by groups of Transportation Security Administration agents and even bomb sniffing dogs roaming around.
I'm so glad to be back in China where I don't have to be afraid of some random bag or a beggar. Well... maybe I can fear the beggar a little bit, but I have enough sense to know not to give them any money. I don't need a recording in 5 languages to tell me not to do so.