On a recent trip through the Managua and Miami Airports we were confounded by a strange sight. Shrink-wrapped luggage? What will they think of next? Our first reaction to the latest phenomenon in airport security was disbelief.

It seemed like a mistake at first. Standing in the check in line at the Managua Airport we noticed a large, shiny blob of plastic. A mesh handle stuck off to one side. The baggage handlers picked it up and swung it like a bowling ball bag onto the scales. There were so many layers of shrink-wrap on this thing that the color of the bag was indiscernible.

We’ve used duct tape on our luggage on occasion but these people had certainly gotten carried away!

And then we began seeing more. By the time we reached Miami, pods reminiscent of Nation of the Body Snatchers were showing up everywhere. Misshapen and glistening, they rested quietly at their victims feet, rode silently on conveyor belts, and bounced jauntily onto claim carousels. I could see the look of envy in the eyes of those reaching for their plain, unprotected bags.

Inevitably, we soon came across a manned shrink-wrap station, which promised the ultimate in security for those willing to pay the fee. Apparently, this trend is a reaction to a couple of incidents in which baggage handlers used customer luggage to transport illegal drugs.

I would love to have witnessed the birth of this business plan! Convincing airport officials, crafting a marketing plan and last but not least, the solid waste disposal plan. Because everyone knows that single use products are manufactured for placement in a landfill or incinerator queue at the end of their short life.

As soon as we was finished playing with the absurdness of this new trend, we realized what a truly bad idea it is. Not only are they selling a product certain to augment a growing garbage problem, they are capitalizing on the senseless fears of a gullible general public.

Worst of all, they use precious oil to make it. I mean, “Hello?!” – We’re spending billions of tax dollars and killing how many people to stabilize the oil market so we can manufacture more single use plastic packaging to make more people feel more secure?

So, what’s next? Shrink-wrapped cadavers? Well……….Click on More to read the ABC News Story “Coroner Wants to Shrink-Wrap Bodies”

Coroner Wants to Shrink-Wrap Bodies

Feb 18, 2005

OLYMPIA, Wash. – In the case of a natural disaster or terrorist attack, some emergency officials in Western Washington plan to be prepared — with a large, shrink wrap machine.

The Thurston County Coroner’s Office recently won approval to purchase a machine able to shrink-wrap human remains. The process would make it easier to transport a large number of bodies.

After the bodies have been autopsied and identified, they would be zipped into body bags, placed on a plywood trays and covered with cardboard lids.

The trays would then be pushed through the machine and come out in shrink-wrapped packages. The wrapped bodies would be easier to carry than body bags and less disturbing for workers, county Coroner Judy Arnold recently told The Olympian newspaper.

“It’s hard to think of people in those terms,” she said. “But it’s a matter of logistics, and we want to do it in the best and the most respectable way for both the deceased and the family.”

The coroner’s office has already started a bidding process to find a company to build the machine. A Homeland Security grant will pay for the machine, which will cost an estimated $50,000.

Rob Harper, spokesman for the state Department of Emergency Management, said it’s the first plan of its kind in the state. The department administers the federal Homeland Security funds.

Emergency officials around the region began discussing the idea after the terrorist takeover of a Russian school in September and December’s tsunamis, which killed more than 120,000 in Southeast Asia.

Photos of both events revealed the dead lying on the ground or being tossed into pickups.

The emergency officials want to avoid dealing with numerous limp and hard-to-carry body bags, especially in a situation where volunteer workers may not be used to handling human remains, Arnold said.

The shrink-wrapped bodies could be moved with forklifts, and the extra plastic covering would seal in biohazards such as anthrax in the case of bioterrorism.

The entire machine could be wheeled on a trailer to other parts of the state or taken by helicopter, Arnold said.

Bette Shultz, Thurston County’s emergency management coordinator, said the machine is something that could have been used in the tsunami aftermath.

“You know, it’s neat, but it’s kind of creepy,” she said. “It’s one of those things you spend a lot of

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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