Here I am again, in an airport. I love being in an airport when it means that I am going somewhere. It can be anywhere really but after watching the radars for the last few days I’m confident that we will make it to Okinawa and not have to wait it out in Hong Kong. The last 6 months have been pretty hectic, lots of change, lots of uncertainty, lots of great results achieved, but a shed load of stress to occupy the mind and play havoc with the body.
I am very very excited for the future but more about that later. The trip to the airport was remarkably smooth, no traffic, train on time and hardly anyone at security. Now I’m not new to this airport lark so my back was packed so that I could take out my toiletries and electronics quickly … (I have a lot of electronics with me) and glide through the x-ray machine. The new ‘stations’ process in Gatwick is awesome. The woman beside me who had just discovered her perfume, shampoo, bottle of wine (I kid you not) were ‘in the wrong bag’, would have slowed me down previously but not with this new system. Leaving her behind with her very perplexed husband (I was on his side tbh) I sent my trays off and headed through the metal detector. All the alarms went off. All of them. So I’m sent down another route, shoes off, watch etc. and a wee girl who must have been about 12 asked if I had anything in my pockets and started to frisk me. Happy not to find I was packing, she sends me to collect my bag when I find that it is in the ‘bad bag’ channel. For the love of..!
The friendliest security guard then asks if it’s OK for her to search it, ‘there seems to be some strange items in the top pocket and they wires here need to be looked at’. Now I grew up in Ireland. We walked straighter if a Garda (Irish Police) was in sight, so I’m in a mild state of panic as to why ‘strange items’ have made their way into my bag. ‘It requires a full search Madam’. Two things here, when did we start calling people ‘Madam’ in the UK and when 😦 did I get that old!? Then the red tray comes out. Now the red tray is reserved for bags that need additional scanning. The ones that they really ‘suspect’. Great, I was half asleep getting here, now I’m fully awake and my brain has already put me in a holding room with outlandish charges against me.
The tray is scanned and my bag is dispatched back into the x-ray machine with everything else held back. Roar-ie, my travelling companion is even given his own wee tray to transit through the machine. That said, once completed the operator gives him a little cuddle and returns him to my bag 🙂
I then realise that I’ve left my shoes on their little x-ray machine… the security person responsible for that machine is walking up and down the rows of people seeking their owner. I can’t explain to them that I spend most of my life barefoot (to clarify I did have socks on) and was now fully focused on identifying these ‘strange items’ hence not missing the shoes. Yeah I probably look really guilty about now.
The front pocket of my bag is opened and the contents spill out on the
search area… my black belt and a box of tampons. Christ. Second pocket, ah my MacBook charger…”this must be it”, my very friendly security guard comments… now how on earth is that strange, surely every passenger has something resembling a laptop charger??? She is like a dog with a potential bone now and keeps searching , making it to the tiny pocket at the top of my bag, she shows me the x-ray and I have to admit it does look dodgy. Fair play to the operator. Somehow the angle of the x-ray and my bag have superimposed the charging lead, my GoPro, my phone charger and the 4 watches that I have packed onto each other and they look like a huge mass of wires of timers. I can’t blame them for pulling the bag… I would have. I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not allowed to take a picture of the x-ray, my bag was repacked and I was on my way.
Now I have to say the staff were lovely but wow… a slightly perspiring Ciara headed off for the duty free to spray copious amounts of Chanel No. 5 so as to avert the smell of perspiration. I’m so going to sleep on this flight to Hong Kong… I hope.