. . . . previously, I’d caused havoc, embarrassment and humiliation at Heathrow Airport and we were momentary illegal immigrants in Canada after having been awake for nearly 24 hours on our way to Seattle.
Zombified by tiredness we stepped out of an elevator at Calgary Airport and appeared to be behind the U.S. customs desks, tourists to-ing and fro-ing on the far side of them, shops and departure gates splayed out beyond. Treading very carefully after falling foul of Heathrow Gestapo security, we approached the first human we could find.
“Excuse me,” I said in a little girl’s voice. Not intentionally, mind you. He just looked so very big and I was feeling like Alice.
“Can I help you?” he asked. Oh, yes please. Give me a fireman’s lift to the first aid room, find a cot for me to lie down on and put a cold compress on my forehead.
I lost track of the people we asked for directions, the forms we handed over, the snaking empty mazes we trudged along, eventually passing go, saying goodbye to our suitcases again and, oh goody gosh, going through security.
Thankfully they didn’t seem to be expecting me. Our boarding cards and passports were inspected for the 43rd time and we were directed to a security queue. It was the same drill as at Heathrow except everyone was taking their shoes off so I meekly followed suit.
As our boarding cards were scrutinized for the 44th time the proceedings came to a halt.
A young blond Aryan looked at our boarding cards, looked at us, looked at the boarding cards again and squinted, showed them to her colleague, who looked at us then called two other colleagues over who all peered at us while pointing at our boarding cards.
I wanted to cry.
If it would have made them happy I would have laid down on the conveyor belt and gone through the luggage x-ray machine myself.
“I’m sorry,” blondie said, “you’ll have to go to that other line.”
“What?” I had heard the actual words she said. I just hoped she’d change her mind. Jimmy was putting his shoes back on without further questions.
“That other line,” and she pointed.
“Where?” My poor brain was shutting down and I wanted to be really, really certain she meant what she said.
“Over there by the wall,” she enunciated very carefully. My jacket, handbag, computer and shoes, all neatly laid out, taunted me from their trays. Jimmy wouldn’t look at me and was wheeling away.
With a last punch of stamina, I put myself back together, walked to the other line, unloaded into the trays and watched it all whiz away on the conveyor. Good riddance.
Our boarding cards had taken a little side trip, courtesy of the security staff, who perhaps didn’t have enough to do as they outnumbered the passengers. The boarding cards were walked round the whole area by various staff and admired by all and sundry as though they were showing off a cute puppy.
In my socks I stepped through the security scanner, where I was stopped yet again. “You’ve been chosen for security screening through our airport. It’s on your boarding card.” I’d already forgotten about the boarding cards. They were still being passed around for the staff to marvel at. “It has four S’s on it. Would you like me to search you or do you want to go through there?” She pointed to Jimmy, who in my dazed and weary state I’d also forgotten the existence of, standing in a round glass case in a familiar Hands up! stance. The virtual strip search.
I looked at him. I looked at her. “Ma’am?” she asked.
She looked at me.
“I have no idea.” I was so worn down by officialdom I was completely unable to make a simple decision.
“Why don’t you step through there?” she said kindly.
“Okay.” She could have been sending me to a firing squad for all I knew. Or cared.
After asking the way out of security, being misdirected and taking only two more wrong turns, we found our departure gate for Seattle and sat down.
“Can I see our boarding cards?” I asked Jimmy.
I held them up side by side. “Yours has the four S’s on it. Not mine.”
“You were the one security was tracking this time.”
“They picked you out to track through Calgary when we checked in at Heathrow and marked your boarding card, long before my snit in security.”
“I know,” he said, smirking.
“It was nothing to do with me not taking my shoes off.”
“Let me see the boarding cards for the London/Calgary leg.”
“I threw them away.”
“Why?” I asked on a note of rising mania.
“They’re no good now.”
“I know that but I’d still like to see them.”
“Well you can’t.”
“I’ll bet mine for Heathrow has the four S’s on it.”
“Choosing me for a security search and tracking was completely random.”
“You let me think it was my fault that we were screened.”
I was too tired to give him a piece of my mind. I’m not sure there was a piece of it left to give him.
The flight to Seattle must have been uneventful as I didn’t feel inspired to write about it. That or we took a taxi from Calgary. I don’t remember now.