I’m not sure what it is about me, but I always set off metal detectors. Maybe as a toddler I ingested an inordinate amount of coins that never made it out the other end and into my nappy so to speak, but actually it’s gone beyond a joke now especially with the amount of travel that I’ve done over the past month.
Trust me on this, I’ve tried every trick in the book to make my passage through airport security as speedy and smooth as possible, but, regardless of my by now vain attempts at this, each and every time I set those damn alarms off.
At first I thought it might be my under-wired bra that was the problem (I have quite an ample bosom so there is a fair amount of ironmongery going on in the chest department) and so because of this I decided to be cunning and get one step ahead of the game by swopping my Everyday bra for something ‘wireless’ and more along the lines of the Sporting variety. This is a bit of an anomaly as I never go to the gym and I can’t run to save my life or any one elses as a matter of fact. However, in the interests of not having to be subjected to the humiliation and irritation of the bleeping metal detector machine, I thought it a worthwhile investment and so purchased two of the sexless darlings to wear souly on travel days. It has, as it so happens become apparent over the past month, that my selection of brassieres, sportif or otherwise, isn’t the problem after all.
I’ve done all the common sense things like removing jewellery, belts, boots, buckles, you name it, but still I get caught up in what amounts to practically a strip search at every airport around the world.
In the past 30 days we’ve done 15 flights which has entailed a lot of airport security checks. In the UK the backscatter body imaging machines are relatively new and not currently widely used (there is also some controversy over the safety of them) whereas every airport in the States that we visited routinely had them. I did a bit of Internet research into them as I’m not sure I like the idea of being x-rayed unnecessarily and was fascinated during my investigations. to learn that they can tell which passengers have breast implants and also those with prosthetic testicles. (I wonder if anyone has both? That would freak them)
By the time I’ve taken off my boots (and then wished I’d put socks on so no one can spot the seriously unattractive, very old, chipped red nail varnish on my toes) coat and scarf, taken laptop out of case, sorted through liquids and put into separate clear plastic bag, emptied out pockets and Lord knows what else, I’m a hot, sweaty, grumpy wreck of a woman.
As I stand waiting in the queue to go through the metal detector machine I take in a very deep breath and then mutter to myself, ‘Here we go again’ as the BLEEP, BLEEP, BLEEP alarm starts screeching… ‘Excuse me Madam, would you please step aside over here with your feet on the markings on the floor, your legs apart and your hands held up over your head. I just have to search you. ‘Just have to search you’ the now all to familiar words ringing in my ears – ME!!!! I mutter to myself. Why me? I’ve never done a wicked thing in my life (Ok I fess up, I did shop lift some sweets and a pack of nail files once when I was 5) but why am I being singled out as the bad guy round here?
I then have to endure the a) embarrasment and b) the hatred of all my fellow passengers in the queue behind me as I hold them up. There I stand, legs akimbo whilst I get felt up everywhere. Yes, I mean it when I say everywhere. A lot of time yesterday at Heathrow was spent on my crotch and inner leg area and my waist. Damn, damn, damn, those Levi rivets. The hand held metal detector machine was waved over every part of my body, back and front and then the woman asked me to pull my shirt up so she could see my waist. I nearly died. Oh great, really fabulous I thought to myself, now I have to expose my Muffin Top to everyone in the near vicinity to check out. For those of you that are unfamiliar with this term, a Muffin Top is the unsightly wedge of spare tyre that hangs over your jeans when a) you are fat and b) are wearing jeans that are at least 2 sizes to small for you. My Muffin top is the result of Christmas excesses and 2 weeks of wholesale bingeing in the States. (I am going to be getting shot of it very soon)
After what seemed like a lifetime, the security woman eventually decided that I didn’t have explosives up my arse and decided to let me go.
I went to the conveyor belt to collect my belongings after they’d been x-rayed and found everything, apart from my suitcase. ‘Where’s my bloody suitcase’ I shouted to the Irishman who by this stage had collected all of his stuff and was ready to go.
He pointed to my open case that was on a separate table and being sifted through by some other members of the ‘Let’s make Lottie’s life as difficult as hell’ team.
‘Oh no!’ I wailed, ‘What the fuck is going on? What the hell is wrong with my bag?’
‘Madam, we are very sorry but there is something in here that is liquid, and we need to check it out’.
I knew that I didn’t have any liquids, sharp objects, bombs, incendiary devices, sex aids, knives or anything incriminating in my bag so I was seriously pissed off about this.
As the 2 security guards rifled through my personal belongings, scrutinizing everything, leafing through pages of my books and passing various objects through a separate scanner, I wondered just what goes on in their heads, and what they make of their findings and the character of the person whose bag it is that they are searching.
This is what they found in my bag:
A lot of dirty underwear
My silver Indian jewellery (because I’ve given up putting it on for the duration of the trip due to the bleep, bleep machine)
A scented candle (lovely Christmas present from Izzy) and tea-lights (as it turned out these were the offending articles)
Some clothes (mostly dirty)
Christmas cards from the children
Photos, notebooks and pens
And 3 books: The Bhagavad-Gita, The Collected Dorothy Parker, and Patti Smith’s Just Kids
I didn’t yell, and I didn’t scream( however much I wanted too). I understand why this has to be done but it still makes me very sad and really angry. All I did was pinch some penny chews…..