I do not like the “new normal.” I much prefer the “old normal” even though things seemed rather abnormal at the time. Example: terrorism.
Today, acts of terrorism in North America, both domestic and foreign, both executed and aborted, are taxing the resources of every local, provincial, state and federal law enforcement agency on that continent. In Canada, the Al-Qaeda members of the Islamic “Toronto 18” terrorist cell are currently in jail. The two Al-Qaeda suspects in the VIA Rail terrorist plot to blow up the Toronto to New York City train are now awaiting trial. We are told there are more operations in the works. This is the new normal.
The old normal ended 24 years ago when Canada’s very first terrorist hijacked a bus. Yeah, a bus. Greyhound Bus No. 1482 on its way from Montreal to New York City with 11 passengers on board was commandeered by a Canadian of Lebanese origin determined to create a hostage-taking incident thereby drawing attention to the plight of Christians in his homeland.
In those days, terrorists and extortionists were hijacking so many airplanes, the Mideast and Cuba were practically regularly scheduled routes of most airlines. So, a bus? Any student of physics, even a failing student of physics, will tell you pigs will fly before buses.
Also listed as poor vehicle choices in The Hijacker’s Handbook are golf carts, bulldozers, dirt bikes, hydrofoils and the Ford Pinto.
Nonetheless, our hijacker, our very own Canadian hijacker, has his gun drawn and his Greyhound in high gear when he faces his first real test. A passenger — of which there were 11 on this bus — objects to the hijacker’s erratic behavior.
So what does our hijacker do? He kicks this guy off the bus. Big mistake. Not only did the hijacker release the hostage, he forgot to wave the gun around and say: “You better not tell anybody about this, or else!!!”
Subsequently the passenger, a born spoilsport, got off the bus and blabbed about the hijacking to everybody who would listen. You can’t blame him for being steamed, because he’s standing next to a busy highway holding a round-trip ticket to New York City.
He then called the Quebec Provincial Police who assumed not even a terrorist is nuts enough to take a bus trip across Canada in April, so they alerted police in Vermont, only. The QPP investigation ended there.
Now we have no police looking for the hijacked bus in Canada, but a sheriff in Vermont, unfamiliar with bus line Greyhound is looking for a crazed Canadian riding a skinny dog south down Interstate 91.
Thinking that by this time there must be a cross-country police alert out for him, the hijacker orders the bus driver to divert to Ottawa. That being the nation’s capital, he knows nothing ever happens there. Once on Parliament Hill, nobody stopped him, nobody noticed, nobody cared. Welcome to the Canadian federal government in action.
So they pull onto Parliament Hill in the middle of the afternoon and our government is in session, which means the lights are on, the bells are ringing and everybody’s asleep in chambers. Suddenly, a tourist bus cuts off the hijacked bus and takes his parking spot. As an armed terrorist with a troop of hostages, the last thing you expect to be confronted by is rudeness. A shouting match erupts over the parking spots.
The hijacker then orders the driver to take the vehicle onto the lawn of Parliament Hill, where it sinks in soggy grass up to its axles. That’s pretty much the end of the chase scene right there. Our hijacker sends one of the hostages out with a terrorist note listing all his demands and — you guessed it — nobody can read the guy’s handwriting.
Meanwhile, on the bus, the hostages by their own admission were, and I quote, “telling jokes and stories and exchanging family photos from their wallets.” Boy, here’s a group of people who’ll be having flashbacks and nightmares for the rest of their lives, eh?
Now the hijacker is so frustrated he walks down the steps of the bus, opens the door and fires two shots into the lawn. Well, obviously our hijacker knows nothing about Canada because nobody shoots a lawn in Ottawa and gets away with it! The Mounties swarmed the place — weapons bigger than the officers carrying them, sirens wailing, emergency tactical vehicles, the bomb squad.
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was briefed on the situation unfolding below his office after the riddled bodies of four blades of grass had been uncovered.
Eventually, however, our hijacker just gave up in disgust. If the police didn’t care enough to report him or chase him, if the hostages were just going to sit around chatting and planning the first annual hostage reunion, if the prime minister was practically waving at him from his window, then to hell with it. Why bother?
The man simply quit. It’s just my hunch, but I think the flap over the parking spot demoralized him the most.
And that’s the “old normal” I long for, when gangs couldn’t shoot straight and terrorists hijacked buses.