Airport Gestapo #2

How about a sharp tongue? Photo Credit: Wikipedia

. . . . . . 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.

59 thoughts on “Airport Gestapo #2

  1. I worked at the Miami Airport back when Eastern Airlines flew (if you can remember that far back), so from the employee perspective you notice all of the crazy people! Then when Hector and I lived in Atlanta (no longer working for the airlines) for some reason I always got stopped and searched when I traveled, this was in the 80’s! But I can’t wait to hear the end of your story!


    1. Oh I remember flying on Eastern! I used to work at Gatwick Airport for Freddie Laker. Do you remember Laker Airways? He ran the first low cost transatlantic flights. I wonder why you always got searched. Maybe the Georgians just liked the look of you!


  2. Now I can’t wait for the next post… have you been a naughty girl??? Been through a few problems at airports, but then I do have a biog mouth and an attitude towards these security people that seem to have no consistency in handling people… and if I’m being singled out because of my looks, then they are fair game for my attention to theirs…


          1. well that’s true. I used to write a parenting blog about my misadventures with baby Lyra and when stuff went badly wrong my first thought would often be ‘I can make that into a hilarious blog post’


  3. Ooops! 😳 Maybe someone didn’t like your belligerent attitude? Reminds me of when we got to the Canada/USA border, and the officer asked hubby what we’d bought in Canada, When he flippantly answered, “Oh, a bit of this and a bit of that”, they decided to just about take the car apart, whilst we waited in custody. Not even a cup of coffee was offered during our hour wait. 😦


    1. Oops. He won’t do that again. There is a tick box on the application forms for customs and immigration jobs labeled “sense of humor.” If you tick it you are automatically rejected.


  4. Should be interesting! Do you know that in January at the Edmonton airport the security folks found a pipe bomb in a camera case – seems the teen had forgotten it was there…they did nothing and even offered him the bomb back but he thought maybe that was dangerous and got on his flight to Mexico without it…couldn’t make this up! An investigation about this lapse followed a week later…so you can see why they’d be suspicious about toothpaste or shoes!!


  5. SUSPENSE!!!! I just had the “lost Luggage” situation… but all is good in the world now. Frizzy hair abated!! … My flat iron was returned to me… in my lost luggage!!!!


  6. It’s a good thing we’re traveling these days by RV. I want to travel overseas again — but it might need to be by ship. I don’t think I can abide the current state of airline travel. Makes me anxious just thinking about it!


    1. We always get a pat down now which involves waiting for a spare male and female member of staff to show up. Meanwhile we are jumping up and down, trying to keep our eyes on our bags and getting the stink eye from other security staff for not standing where they told us to stand. It’s very trying, but I try to keep my lip buttoned!


  7. I’m chuckling at the “Excuse me, madam – please come with me”. I too have had more than my fair share of that comment directed towards me – and I’m not inclined to open my mouth anywhere for any reason. I just look guilty of something. Now I can smile when I discover other people get themselves into trouble :0


      1. I’m doing both – remember my favourite expression – today’s disaster is tomorrow’s funny story!!
        Having said that, Husband still doesn’t think it’s funny that I got pulled over by US Customs at the airport on our last trip because I had an apple without a sticker on it indicating its country of origin. I was held in the security office (you know the unmarked, locked-down area ‘terrorists’ are escorted to) for 45 minutes before they decided to simply confiscate my apple 😦


        1. I read this out to himself. I can’t repeat what he said. The gist of it was “That’s unbelievable!” As for the lockdown area, that’s coming up in Part #3! BTW, has it put you off apples or the U.S. – or both?


          1. LOL! I was pretty sure the lockdown was coming up next!!! :O
            What’s even more unbelievable about the apple story is that we clear US Customs in Toronto before we even board the plane. Technically, once we’ve cleared customs, we are now in US territory even though we are still sitting in the Toronto airport. All I wanted was an apple to snack on while we were waiting for our flight. The Anti-Fruit League didn’t seem to see the distinction between smuggling contraband into the US and having a snack on route. Talk about over-reaction though. Instead of just telling me to throw it away, they took my passport, my ticket and escorted me to the Room of Shame.
            Since it wasn’t my first time to the Room of Shame, Husband is threatening not to travel with me anymore. … and apples are now forbidden fruit 🙂


              1. There are so many flights into the US from Toronto, it is more efficent to pre-clear travellers before their flights. There is obviously some agreement in place between to the two countries. I don’t know if there are any other Canadian cities that have that pre-clearance. It’s actually quite convenient – when common sense doesn’t get in the way 🙂
                I’ve always wondered if the agents were Canadians working the US or Americans living in Canada. Unfortunately, they don’t exactly invite idle curiosity.


    1. The funny thing is (not at the time) it wasn’t being searched that I minded (although I was a bit surprised – next post), it was their laisez-faire attitude. Take your shoes off, keep them on, who cares? I packed scissors in my carry-on once as a last minute oversight and it wasn’t picked up in the screening. Like I said, what kind of way is that to conduct security?


            1. Go for the pat down instead of the government endorsed irradiation. It makes the journey more interesting! Oh gosh, I hope that doesn’t make me sound creepy. Just prefer to take my chances with hands instead of x-rays.


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