Transit Security – A Matter of Perspective


by Mark Foss

In 2000, a friend and I rode the train from Chita, Russia to Irkutsk, Russia. The trip is roughly 1,100 kilometers (about 680 miles). We settled into a compartment that had two seats with upper levels that doubled as bunk beds at night. The bottom bunks served as seats during the day with storage under each seat. There was a short table under the window. The quarters were cramped but worked.

A person servicing the car issued us flannel-like sheets tied with string. The packet of bedding also contained a pillow case and some other smaller items. I didn’t pay much attention; I was very tired. I untied the packet and took what I wanted — throwing the rest on the table.

Since there were two of us in a car that could serve four, other travelers joined us and left us as we passed various stops along our journey. People came and went throughout the day and night. Each passenger was allotted sheets. Each was responsible for returning all of the items in the packet.

We approached our destination sometime early in the morning. When we got ready to leave, the attendant asked for our bedding. I gave her what I had. Unfortunately, I hadn’t counted the pieces the night before and I couldn’t find what was supposed to have been in the packet. The attendant made us search. In the process of searching, a police officer who was riding on the train decided to get involved. He made us search more. We still couldn’t find the items. The missing items, I think, were probably being used by some of the sleeping passengers in our compartment. The whole process began to take on a surreal feeling — lost items, police and a big ruckus.

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