take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Airport Anxiety 

Flying is generally a quick and efficient way of travelling from A to B, but, like most activities performed by my good self, involves a number of elements of anxiety.

1. Getting to the airport anxiety

There are not many of us who can boast that they live within walking distance of an airport, if such a thing could be boast-worthy in any other context than the "getting to the airport" context. Noise pollution, anyone? I am no exception to this generalisation. What this means is that, whichever method you use, getting to the airport will inevitably involve at least some unpredictability as you must rely on various forms of transport. What will the traffic be like? Will my train connect neatly with the shuttle bus and, once again, what will the traffic be like? Will my taxi arrive on time and, yes, you've guessed it, what will the traffic be like? Will there be long queues at check-in? Will I be apprehended at passport control for that pair of tweezers I forgot to put in the checked-in luggage? As cautious travellers, Big and I tend to compensate for the uncertainty by starting our journey with as much time to spare as would cancel out the majority of the time benefit of travelling by aeroplane. Friday afternoon was no exception and we arrived at the airport a full three hours ahead of the flight time. Four hours if you include the one hour delay to our one hour flight, the details of which we would learn a little later. Still, armed with digital audio players, magazines and access to a number of food and drink establishments, we managed to wile away the hours quite contentedly.

2. The "bleep" anxiety

I always set off the alarm when I go through the metal detector. Without exception. I can't work out whether it's my belt, my jewellery, my dental infrastructure or the underwires in my bra, but I always bleep and always get frisked, much to Big's amusement. But they never find it, y'know... (she tailed off, mysteriously).

On this occasion, not only was I treated to friskings at every opportunity, but my handbag also became an object of suspicion. On the outward journey, as I waited for it to emerge from the x-ray machine, the man staring at the screen stopped the conveyor for a moment, zoomed in on it, peered at it for a while then, allowing the conveyor to continue, grabbed it, gave it a shake and asked his colleague to put it through again. No explanation. On the return journey, as I was replacing my belt after the most recent frisking, a young woman asked me: "Is this is your bag, madam?" I then watched as she slowly and meticulously searched through the contents of the bag with constant narration - "I'm just going to take your iPod out", "I'm just going to move this glove" - removing the electronic items so that they could be put through "the machine" (I never learned what "the machine" actually did...), stopping to admire my mobile phone and attempting to replace each item exactly where she'd found it. Luckily, I'd had a bit of a clearout which meant that she didn't have to sift through 80 till receipts and yards of peeled off Trebor Extra Strong mint wrapper, but I hadn't disposed of the many and varied "bits of broken pen" which may have looked like bomb-making equipment or dangerous weapons to the (trained or untrained) eye.

Luckily, due to point 1. above, I wasn't in a hurry and was reasonably confident that I had nothing to hide, although there is always that element of self-doubt. Who knows, I could be an international terrorist without even realising!

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