Sunday, August 27, 2006

context

I flew on the day the London explodable-liquids arrests took place. *

Being a former military-intel counter-terrorism wife paid off here because I immediately recognized that a. security was going to be trying to be tighter but wouldn't yet quite know what that meant so things were probably going to be a complete pig's breakfast and b. it would be a really good idea to rid my carry-on of anything liquid.

So, wearing free-from-metal slip-on sandals, checking my quite small enough to carry-on suitcase (only it weighed about 40 pounds or something), and carrying only my inoffensive not-a-purse (I don't do purses. It is not a purse, it is a quite artistic satchel that I happen to carry pens and wallets and unmentionables in) I felt pretty darn smug when I showed up 2 1/2 hours before my flight. Actually, I hadn't anticipated that 1 oz tubes of $1.69 lip gloss were 'liquid,' but my kind and not-yet-frazzled check in person thought to ask me about these items and I stuffed them into my checked bag just before it was whisked off.

I had been right about security as well. They were definitely on high-alert, but hadn't yet figured out just what that meant. So there were hastily printed signs saying things like: 'NO LIQUIDS!!! This means no: _________ ' with a long line of printed items and then, right as you got to the actual checker people, some hand-printed additions as well.

There weren't all that many people checking through though, so I kicked off my sandals, piled them into a bin and carefully displayed the artistic satchel nice and flat so they could clearly pick out things like tampons and stuff when it went through the scanner.

They decided my satchel wasn't actually dangerous although it did get scanned three times. Just as well otherwise I might have felt left out because the bag before me and the bag after me both got special hand-search treatment. And there was the lady who was informed that her eye drops were going to be confiscated. She was furious. She offered to pour the drops in her eyes right there, right that moment. She'd also pour them in her husband's eyes if they liked (husband shifts and looks desperately uncomfortable - probably because he had to convince the wife that he was totally backing her up on this while he was showing the security people that he agreed she was making too much of a fuss). Nope she was told, the eye drops are history.

'But they are my $25 dollar eye drops!' She wailed that really loudly and I HAD to look - I had to. Because what kind of eye-drops cost $25? And it was a mid-sized bottle of off-the-shelf contact solution. And I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and suggest she check out Walmart because her local drug store was really marking it up on her. She pouted and whined and shouted and threatened but security held firm and finally she stormed off through the automatic rotating door still muttering about how unreasonable it was that her eye drops were so dangerous.

I really felt for those security people, because you knew it was only going to get worse through the day.

Of course now I was only 2 hours early for my flight, but I was prepared with a brand new book, and there were still enough seats at the gate that I could sit down without deciding who would be least offended that I took the open seat at their side.

Over an hour later a woman of about 60 sat down next to me. She sat down with that exhale of breath, that sort of sigh that's a humph pushed out by the force of her body hitting the chair. She immediately pulled out her cell phone and began a loud, indignant conversation.

Security, it appears, had not been kind. They had not cared that she was a first class passenger. They had insisted on searching her purse. Her. Purse. Hers. Uh huh (excited chatter on other side) I know. And she had checked her suitcase even though she never checks her suitcase, but she did and now she'll have to wait at the other end, wait while they do god knows what with her things. And you know what they're like in baggage handling. I mean it's not like she's going to Europe for god's sake. I know. (more chatter). But then... and there was a deep inhale here... they confiscated her perfume. Her perfume. Her Perfume. I know! Very expensive. Oh, my dear very expensive. Well, no just the travel one but still. I just hope those security men like Chanel because you know they're just going to take it home to their wives and...

... and the battery on her phone died. And she snapped it shut, threw it in her purse, crossed her arms over her bosom shelf and looked at me.

'This,' she said dramatically, 'is the worst day of my entire life.'

And I said it. I smiled at her, very sweetly and nicely, and I said:

'Lucky you.'

*Where does the context come in? It was the day after I found this out.

1 comment:

Di from California said...

I came from someone else's website and got stuck here browsing through the recent posts. Wow, what a story to tell I thought. What a family. I was proud for you and Kirk. I hoped the he will come home even after been missed for 3 years. I just read the *context* and started to sob.
Thank you for telling this story...