(June 17) OK, this is getting ridiculous. On a recent trip to Montreal, I saw not one but two families with children get stopped and searched going through airport security.

Let me say that again. Families. With children.

Mom, Dad, you’re fine, but junior here could be packing a box cutter in his diapers. Meanwhile, all the people I thought looked suspicious were just waved on through.

It kind of reminded me of that scene from the movie “Airplane!,” in which the guys with guns and explosives walked right through security while the little old lady was stopped and frisked.

Suddenly, that scene isn’t so funny anymore.

I don’t know which is worse. Our hysterical paranoia over another terrorist attack or our hysterical paranoia that some group of people is going to sue the entire country because we’re keeping a closer eye on them at the airport.

TRUCKERS’ PLAN

At least the trucking industry is taking a more common-sense approach to waging the war on terrorism.

In a move I’m sure brings to fruition the fantasies of more than one truck driver, the American Trucking Associations has come up with a plan to create what it calls America’s Trucking Army.

When I first read about this, it brought to mind images of hordes of truckers, armed to the teeth, roaming the country and searching for anyone who looks the least bit suspicious.

It kind of reminded me of that song “Convoy” from the ‘70s, in which a fleet of trucks a thousand strong rolls across the country and over anything that gets in its way.

“Mercy sakes alive, looks like we got us a convoy!”

But instead of arming the truckers with weapons, the ATA is arming them with something far more important and effective — knowledge.

TARGET THE RIGHT PEOPLE

Though it hasn’t begun in full force, the ATA’s program is training drivers to be on the alert, to keep an eye out for anything suspicious and, most importantly, telling them what to do if they see anything out of the ordinary.

What it is not teaching them is how to harass innocent women and children while the real culprits parade on by, snickering to themselves.

This isn’t any sort of specialized knowledge. It’s not like these people will be receiving training from the Central Intelligence Agency or anything. It’s just plain, old-fashioned common sense.

Which makes me all the more impressed with what truck drivers have to put up with these days.

Today’s driver is no longer just some rube whose sole job is to keep the truck from careening off the road while jabbering on the CB. He or she now has to know how to operate an 80,000-pound truck, a variety of communications equipment (including cell phones, faxes and on-board computers) and satellite tracking systems. For produce haulers, there is even more to learn. They have to be experts on the refrigeration and transport of countless varieties of fruits and vegetables.

And now, anti-terrorism training can be added to that list. Today’s trucker gives new meaning to the phrase renaissance man (or woman).

Take all this knowledge, training and information and add to it the low pay, long hours and often just plain lousy working conditions, and the fact that these people still want to help their country becomes all the more amazing.

MINIMAL HIJACKING THREAT

And yet, while truck drivers can and do learn all of this information, the airline industry apparently thinks it’s too much trouble to teach its employees that a woman pushing a stroller full of crying babies is going to have a hard enough time just keeping them quiet, let alone trying to hijack a plane.

What’s she going to do? Hold the plane hostage with a soiled diaper? Come to think of it, that could actually be more dangerous than a box cutter.

I think the next time I travel, I’m just going to hitch a ride on a truck.