Saturday, 12 January 2019

Up, Up and Away

Imagine how different our lives would be without air travel?

Not long ago, flying was reserved for the military or the mega-rich. These days we all take it for granted. We can strike out for any point on the globe and get there in time for last orders.

But with increased use comes increased opportunities for misbehavior so security has become a huge factor with going up up and away. Now, I like a man that takes his work seriously but some of these airport guys have had the fun ripped out of them...surgically.  

Perhaps I shouldn't judge, my face might be as long as a rainy Monday in May if I had to work eight hours in a vast hall reeking of foot pong, yelling at endless lines of red-eyed people who can't understand "Put everything in the tray!" Imagine the pain of a thousand blaring alarms set off by belt buckle knuckle heads or the horror of horrors, having to pat-down people you never ever wanted to touch. No, airport security is no laughing matter. Every shoe could be a disaster waiting to happen, every bottle of Head&Shoulders a chemical nightmare.

I once started my own international incident...well international might be an exaggeration...inter-county at any rate. 

I might have mentioned that I play a bit of squash and a few years ago I was on a team taking on a team from Dublin. The competition happening right next to the airport so I decided I would treat myself and fly up. Kerry airport is small, pocket size small. It only has two check in desks and you could throw a tennis ball from the front door onto the runway. Knowing that,  I arrived in the nick of time for my flight, making every minute under the duvet count.

I had no luggage, only a tiny rucksack holding my playing gear and rackets. I like to be organised so as I queued for security I put my belt, keys, wallet, watch, glasses, change and even my shoes, into the bag and zipped it up. I was ready to breeze through security. When it was my turn I plonked my bag on a tray and moved toward the metal-detector.

"Hold it right there!" yelled a stern voice behind me. I turned around, sure the command was intended for someone else. I was wrong. "You can't take that on a plane!" said the security guy pointing at my racket handle like it was going to jump up and bite him.

"Why not?" I asked, I was really in the dark about this one.

"It's sports equipment," he said, talking to me like I was an idiot, and I was starting to feel like one as well. The line behind me was grumbling and I was starting to feel very flushed.

"I'm not going to start playing on the plane," I said, but he didn't see the sense in my reasoning. Nope, back he sent me to get the bag checked in as luggage. By now, the intercom had started calling for boarding and I was getting filthy looks from all the people queued up behind me. I scuttled out into the reception area, shoeless and holding my pants up with one hand but check in desk was empty.

'All passengers for flight number EI176 to Dublin please make your way to boarding gate 1,' screamed the speakers.

I explained to the girl at another check in desk what had happend and she said, "I'll call Mary, she's just gone for her tea." Two minutes later, Mary appeared like the saint she was. I explained my situation and without any fuss she tagged the bag and sent it shooting down the conveyor belt towards a hole in the wall, she didn't even charge me.

'Last call for boarding flight EI176 to Dublin, can all passengers make their way to boarding gate 1'

Oh no! It looked like my bag was going to make it to Dublin without me. I rushed back to security and thankfully everyone was gone. The same guy who'd refused me earlier stood glaring as I ran through the metal detector half dressed and shoved my boarding card and passport into his hand. Two minutes later I was walking across the tarmac in my socks, trying desperately to stop my pants from hitting the ground. A small twin prop plane was waiting and as I approached from one direction, my bag was being carried toward the plane from another.

Now, this is where the story veers off from what you would expect at JFK or Gatwick. You see, Kerry is a small place and the man carrying my bag had worked in the bar as a teenager. I won't use his real name in case he gets in trouble, so lets call him Alan.

"How-yea, Alan," I yelled over the sound of the engines starting up.

"Hi Squid! God, its been years. Where are you off to today?"

"Dublin," I said nodding toward the plane. The captain was looking out his window at the half-dressed madman stopping for a chat on the runway and he must have thought 'Oh no! It's going to be one of those flights!'

"That's my bag actually, can I get some stuff out?" I asked, pointing to the rucksack Alan was holding.

"Sure," he said and handed over the bag. I got my belt, shoes, phone, keys, wallet. I zipped up the highly dangerous rackets and handed them back to Alan. "Yea can lash that in the boot," I said with a wink and Alan walked a way smiling to himself.

I'm sure if the security man had watched me get dressed under the wing of the plane, he would have shot me out of annoyance, but he didn't see. You'll be delighted to know I didn't blow up the plane, or hold it to ransom with a 'Wilson Hyper-Hammer' squash racket, but I did get a great kick out of living in a place where everyone know your name. It made me fall in love with Kerry all over again.


Ellen M said...

My laugh for the day!!😂👍

Kro said...

I can just imagine the scene. Good tgibg it was asmall airport and you knew people.

J Pierce said...

Hahahahahahaha!, Squid-O! I miss the days of common sense.

Squid McFinnigan said...

Thats the sad thing, common sense is not always so common.

Squid McFinnigan said...

So true, or it would have cost me a fortune.

Squid McFinnigan said...