I stood in the Airport thinking that perhaps I had landed in space galaxy a hundred miles away and light years beyond my lifetime. It was 5:00 am and I was taking a flight for the first time in twenty years (yes, twenty years…staying close to home “kid keeping”…). I felt more like Rip Van Winkle awake for the first time after a hundred year nap (without the rest that might imply)! Where I once remember a modest airport I was basically standing in a complete civilization totally foreign to me.
After announcing to the flight desk clerk that I had no clue where to go in this galaxy she directed me upstairs (2 story escalators) and to “security”-that is where all the fun began. I was adamant I would take “carry-on” luggage only as I was going to a two-day conference and did not want the hassle of checking a bag and then having to try line up and claim it (if it was not lost) and thus be further delayed in the rush hour traffic.
Then the super friendly security agent decided to rifle my carry on bag discovering Nivea Facial Cleansing Cream. Well that apparently is a huge security risk in Canada (I guess the threat of scrubbing the faces of my fellow passengers is something that must be defended against) necessitating an x-ray (I kid you not) of the facial cleanser squeeze tube to determine the remaining volume of the product. After consulting with a supervisory security expert I was told that I would need to check my bag if I wanted to keep the toiletry item as indeed (after the x-ray) its contents were discovered to be in excess of a personal amount (what if I wash my face more than once a day?)- Nah forget that I was in a hurry…my face could stand to be less than spotless for a day or two.
Not before the same security dream team informed me that the bottle of perfume was the largest (100 ml) that could be allowed as a carry on. On top of x-rays of my purse (that has just got to be a fun job finding out what actually is in those travelling black holes of Calcutta) and then I was asked for my shoes. All of this was new to me. Any James Bond movie I ever watched never said anything about facial cleaner or shoes it was usually all about chewing gum and pens that were explosive. Those items no one seemed to care about at the Ottawa Airport as I smacked my gum in frightful anticipation of the onslaught of cabin pressure distorting my hearing and nervously played baton swirling and then juggling with the extra pens I had brought along.
The return trip was equally as amusing. I now had the security thing down pat. I wanted to change my flight for an earlier flight but was told with only 25 minutes to play with it would be close if at possible to do. The lineup to have my ticket switched was huge. A nice, seasoned, older traveler told me that since I had a boarding pass I just need to keep to the left, go through security and voila I would be at the desk and able to switch flights.
I approached this security specialist with my newly acquired confidence, spread the contents of my purse out in the bin on the conveyor belt, dumped my brief case and with great speed whipped off my patent leather pumps and placed them on the conveyor to be x-rayed. All the while very happy to know that I was in time for the earlier flight and no one observing could possibly tell that my first flight in twenty years was the morning before.
I was one with airport security. As I boldly walked through the x-ray charged doorway anticipating nods from the security specialists (usually reserved for those experienced career travelers) suddenly I was pulled aside and the bins I so hurriedly (and professionally) sent through the conveyor belt were now being retrieved and I (and my stuff) quickly relocated to another counter. Great. Now what? I had received a screw driver give-away at the conference but I had the prior presence of mind to ship that separately. What in the world was security about to tell me I had missed? While I am mentally preparing my mind for a possible strip search (the posted sign said I had the option of doing so in private) replaying in my head more James Bond and wondering what else I might be treated to in defence of our country, another security supervisor approached me. Apparently there was a big problem I had just completed the security inspection for the wrong country…I was in the USA customs and my boarding pass was for a Canadian domestic flight. (!!)
Fellow passengers are not created equal…even if they appear to know more than the chic that hadn’t flown in 20 years!
Minutes later I was on the right plane totally enthralled with the speeding down the runway and then takeoff …How I would love to be able drive the car like that! Memo to self…fly again…very soon!!
The Garden Goat