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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

#17: The Curious Case of the Neon Orange Wheelbarrow

Travel’s supposed to be fun, isn’t it? Especially when the reason for cramming our suitcases with way more stuff than we’re ever gonna need, is pleasure. Like jetting off for a holiday. Or perhaps a destination marathon (the latter being a masochistic kind of pleasure).

And it sort of is. Until we reach the airport, and have to negotiate modern-day airport security. After which we’re going to, ironically enough, 'need a holiday'.

Legend has it that there was, once upon a time, in a land far, far away, an age when negotiating airport security wasn’t a giant pain in the ass. Or, to be more exact, about as enjoyable as a bad case of haemorrhoids.

Having checked-in, we just rocked up to this now formidable stretch of terminal turbulence, flashed our passport at some dude (or dudette) dressed up like a Halloween cop, and were relaxing in Departures with a java and good book before a modern-day security scanner could say: "Beep... beep... beepity beep-beep-BEEP!" It was a breeze.

Now things are a little different. Inspired by the threat of terrorism and the chance to wind people up to near insanity (while simultaneously sucking their souls out), getting through airport security has become a process more akin to having root canal surgery conducted by Dr. Nick from The Simpsons (though, to be fair, DN ‘MD’ probably knows more about dentistry than medical doctoring).

First, there’s the queuing (or lining-up) for the scanner, which can last for days, depending how well we’ve timed our trip (through security). Once we get within about six people of it being our turn, panic sets in; we completely forgetting the anal intricacies of the procedure (despite having endured it umpteen times) and frantically copy what the people ahead are doing… in preparation for spreading a single carry-on case across multiple grey trays. Laptop in one. 'Valuables' in another. The actual case or bag takes a third. And our jacket gets one all to itself (just to make it feel special).

Then we remember the half a bottle of Old Spice (or David Beckham for the ladies) in our washbag.

The good ol’ liquid issue has caught me out a few times. Most memorably, when I travelled back from the California International Marathon (in Sacramento) three years ago. As I approached the Grey Tray Zone, I swigged down the last quart of my water bottle and cockily slapped the top shut, confident my haul was as dry as the Sahara. However, I clean forgot I’d also bagged three liquid samples from the marathon expo days earlier...

To read the rest of this column, check out BC Johnny's upcoming book: Chilled Almonds.

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