Friday, September 6, 2013

Can You Bail Me Out of Jail, Part Deux

I've been shooting some videos the past couple weeks to show family and friends a bit of our lifestyle in Argeles-sur-mer and Geneva. The village. The beach. The places we live.

Today, enroute from ASM to Geneva, I shot footage of the train rides, starting with the little station in Argeles.

But when I pulled out my camera in Nimes, waiting for the arrival of the high-speed TGV to Lyon, the nice young lady you see in the gray-and-red SNCF uniform approached me and said, "No cameras in the station," or something to that effect. Much the same way the gendarmarie had lectured me a few days ago for filming the police station (

I feigned ignorance to the young lady, which wasn't difficult, and she seemed satisfied that I put the camera away (I'd already gotten the shots I wanted).

It's understandable that authorities might be nervous about terrorist types shooting photos and video and otherwise scoping out train stations and rail lines for attack. There was a warning last week that Al Qaeda types were threatening to blow up European trains.

But let's face it. There's next to no security in the rail system. Yes, there are police and security personnel walking around, probably profiling possible troublemakers. But people who ride the trains tend to be a more motley-looking lot than airplane passengers, So how would you pick out a potential bomber -- someone like me with longish hair? The girl with tattoos over most of her body? The mother with the toddler in the stroller and several shopping bags?

When you buy a ticket, there's no name on it - so there's no record of who is riding the train. There's no screening of people or baggage. And even the TGV makes multiple stops. It would be rather easy to bring a bomb onboard in luggage, set a timer, and step off the train at the station before the planned explosion.

Not advocating a TSA-style system for the trains. No one's going to fly a train into a skyscraper. Just noting that banning photos is hardly going to deter someone bent on destruction. As for no photos in station, how do you know if someone with a smart phone is making a call, playing a game, or shooting an HD video?

Nonetheless, the day started wonderfully with a beautiful sunrise over the Med. And it ended even better, reunited with D-L in Geneva (and not at a French jail) after several days apart.

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