. . . . . . previously, my bad flight karma had just begun as I faced off with a towering disagreeable-looking security officer at Heathrow Airport while she terrified some other victim of the search police.
Allowing the crush of pushy people and non-stop bags all around to empty my brain of common sense, I tutted and scowled and pushed my carry-on onto apparently her table in order to repack it after the x-ray scan.
It was a big table. There was plenty of room for both of us to conduct our business.
She gave it a resolute shove so it was teetering on the brink. I’d lost my gap on the downhill rollers from the x-ray machine with the flow of bags, trays, shoes and coats clattering along, so now had a cumbersome carry-on in no man’s land with jacket, handbag and computer in trays and not enough hands to deal with them all. Jimmy was not in my frantic field of vision. At least I’d kept my shoes on so my socks were clean.
A momentary vision of being pushed off a cliff with a cascade of dirty underwear, shoes and computers pelting me was shattered by the security führer barking, “You can take your bag over there to those chairs,” showing complete unwillingness to share her precious table.
“I can’t carry all this over there,” I muttered darkly and a little more loudly than I intended. A deep-seated mistrust of strangers in public places had me thinking I must do it all in one trip and not leave anything behind for one moment for some foreigner to steal while my back was turned.
Who was I kidding? I was the foreigner in England.
The mistrust stems back to having my tailored velvet jacket stolen from under my nose while I was having a shoulder massage at a convention in London. By the time I’d replaced the jacket it was out of fashion, or perhaps it never was in and my fashion sense angel took it.
But back to the crisis at hand. Breeeathe, I told myself, Put your jacket on, put your handbag on your shoulder, pick up the computer in one hand and pick up your case . . . . “uuuuh!” . . . with the other hand.
It hit the floor with just a little too much petulant vigor and I rolled it over to the chair, a chair intended for sitting, a chair not really large enough to hold my over-size carry-on, the sort of carry-on Jimmy and I used to point at and grumble sanctimoniously, “That’s too big for a carry-on. How are they going to fit that in the overhead locker? No wonder the lockers are always full and there’s never any room for our bags.” Now we both have one.
Okay. Trauma over. A few steps away from the seething mass and with my carry-on balanced on the arms of the chair, I tried a zipper. Aha! I slipped the computer into its slot amongst its protective underwear, zipped up the case, popped it on the floor and was ready to roll.
“This is all nonsense, taking shoes off being optional. What kind of way is that to conduct security?” I spat at no one in particular as Jimmy was keeping his distance, embarrassed to be with me. I turned to look for our boarding gate.
“Excuse me, madam. Will you come with me?”
Things went from bad to worse.
. . . . to be continued.