Cosmetic security
James Deakin (The Philippine Star) - October 27, 2015 - 10:00am

According to a recent report, South Korea has just overtaken Brazil as the world’s leader in cosmetic surgery. Not be outdone, the Philippines has answered back with an even bigger industry called cosmetic security. This is a booming business that promises safety, customer protection and corporate peace of mind; in reality,  however, it’s about as effective as a silent h.

Not there’s anything wrong with a silent h. I named my daughter Sarah after all. Difference is, I never had to pay for it or inconvenience anyone by doing so. Nor do I tell her that it automatically makes her any better than the Saras without an H. I just added it because I think it’s pretty. And that’s the key difference.

Security firms on the other hand like to add these ‘silent letters’ everywhere, even in places where they are completely redundant, until it reaches a point where it makes absolutely no sense. Like Jhohanahhh. And that would be fine if it didn’t cost us all time and money. But it does.

Take our carpark inspections for a start. Next to penny loafers and pet rocks, this has got to be one of the most successful scams ever sold. Seriously. They start by setting up a checkpoint that forces cars to idle in line long enough to name a hole in the ozone layer after them, only so they can dutifully shove that mirror under your car and have a token glance in your trunk. But if they don’t spot anything that looks like a bowling ball with a fuse,  or a wooden barrel with TNT on the side, you may as well be invisible. Much like a silent h.

Then, once you’ve made it through, it’s off to the entrance of the mall or building, where even more silent letters will frisk you down and poke through your bag with a magic wooden stick looking for deadly objects that you can freely buy once inside the mall. Like guns, knives, hammers and acid.

I’d be okay with all of this if it meant that when something finally went down we could trace our way back through all these security layers to catch the crooks. But no. You realise that when it comes down to it, it is purely cosmetic.

Case in point, my laptop was recently stolen out of my hotel room in a very upmarket resort last month. This place has more security guards than trees. Yet not one of them were able to either prevent the break-in or solve it. They were, however, all able to verify without a shadow of a doubt that my villa was in fact burgled. They even gave me the specific time. “Exactly 3:29pm” sir/mam. But if I happened to be looking for anything more than the painfully obvious, they were fresh out of answers.

Once again, it’s not the need for security that is in question here; it’s the whole  pointless charade that surrounds it. If it were effective, then fine. But when you know that I know that we both know that you’re really only going through the motions, what’s the point? Who exactly are we dancing the conga for?

Yet day in and day out, it happens. And someone is not only getting a good old laugh from it, they’re charging us for the entertainment. And even more serious  than the passed on costs of manpower is the stolen time; imagine for a moment that it only adds an extra minute to each persons day––which is extremely conservative––then multiply that by even half the population. And for what? Because when it comes down to it, it’s all cosmetic.

Many people will tell you that “Hey, at least it gives someone a job” But at the rate we’re going, we would be better off paying the same person to not interfere; that way we’d have the same result without the bottle necks. Sounds harsh, but that’s the reality. A silent h is fine if it remains silent. Otherwise it requires preparation

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