Thursday, December 16, 2010

Why I Do Not Like the Liberty Bell


I'm a sucker for an historical marker, so obviously I liked Philadelphia. The sidewalks are dotted with interesting facts and things of yore. Even seeing the Liberty Bell in its glass house from the sidewalk outside was pretty exciting. We were all even more excited because it was free (hence the literal Latin "liberte," I suppose) to go in and see it. My excitement did not last very long, however, and I was over the Liberty Bell in about two minutes.

Now I admit that I always got annoyed in high school whenever Mrs. Nuff-in-her-navy-sweater-vest would ask me for a hall pass when I was clearly going to the library to return my arm-full of books. I also still get annoyed when the TSA forces me to take my accordion out of its case as they poke and prod at it. But I know that airport security is a little different than high school, and I never throw a fit while being felt up by TSA officials (though I don't like it when they make me play my accordion without at least tipping). I understand security and danger and whatever, even if it's bothersome.

But at the Liberty Bell, it just made no sense. There wasn't a metal detector at all, but there were more security guards than at an airport checkpoint. They made us lift up our coats, so they could "see [our] waistlines," which was dumb because I had on leggings and a sweater that covered my waistline. I had to spin around twice. They checked everyone's purse, but I didn't have one. My coat pockets, however, had all kinds of stuff in them. Nothing dangerous -- unless you count a few stale road snacks -- but I could have had anything in there. Don't try to tell me it's about safety and actual security when you don't have a metal detector or actually check my pockets.

It was very irritating to be put through that nonsense and be stared at by menacing guards while walking through the museum section of the atrium. Even so, I only pouted pouted slightly (at first) about the irony of the Liberty Bell making me feel like I was in a prison. Then some silly guard came over and told @DanCanon kindly (and I admit he was very polite), "Sir, please remove your gum and throw it in that bin over there." Seriously?

That's when I decided that I don't like the Liberty Bell. I didn't even want to go look at that stupid cracked broken symbol.

My compadres-in-tourism were not nearly as offended as I was, and I understand wanting security around this protected symbol. But the security they had there was just plain stupid. I could have had a can of spray paint in my coat pocket or any number of other things (yes, I know I'm surely on some government list now), so what is the point of paying twenty guards to harass gum-chewing tourists?

By the time we got to the actual bell, I was no longer impressed. FWT wanted our picture in front of it, but I refused to smile. The Ballerina took our photo and laughed at me for pouting, and my facade of anger cracked slightly. The whole scene was just plain funny.

Still, I am going to have to look for a new symbol for American Freedom because that bell just doesn't make me feel like a Lee Greenwood song. It makes me feel rebellious, which I suppose could be an American trait. (It could also just be a redhead trait.) Maybe something more modern, like my car. Although my car is cracked too, so maybe that's not a good example.

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