Friday, February 16, 2007

Airport Absurdities

In few places does mankind dare to display the absurdity of life and the artificial social structures we put into place as overtly as it does in airports. I believe that it must have been the airport traversed on the way to the exotic, “primitive” land and not the exotic, “primitive” land itself that (ab)originally inspired structuralist thought. Claude Lévi-Strauss must have had an astronomical number of airmiles and nobody doubts that Lacan and Derrida were flying high.

When I arrived at the security checkpoint, I had a bottle of water in my bag and was told that I could not come through with it. I didn’t see the trashcan which was conveniently hidden behind the tush of the security guard planted majestically in front of it; so I asked what I should do with my bottle. “Drink it” his colleague said. I was thirsty (which was why I had purchased the bottle in the first place) but not thirsty enough to chug-a-lug 16 fluid ounces on the spot. Nonetheless, in no mood to argue with five guys twice my size at seven in the morning, I flipped back in my mind to one of those sweet old college memories and tried to visualize a group of drunken co-eds chanting “drink, drink, drink!” No dice, there were still 12 fluid ounces left. I gathered my forces and tried again; still there remained 8 ounces. So I asked about my bottle again and received the same answer though in a less civil tone since the guard was starting to get annoyed that I was “unwilling” to throw out my bottle—I had still not seen the trashcan. I have difficulty imagining any explosive liquid that one could chug 8 ounces of in two minutes while still remaining standing let alone still standing her ground. But okay, the rules are the rules, his job is to enforce them and unicorns aren’t real even if you develop a single corn on just one foot…I get it.

Waterbottleless, I tried to walk through the beep-wildly-when-anyone-who-has-forgotten-to-take-off-his-or-her-
belt-tries-to-walk-through-it machine and again I was stopped. I had already sent my coat through the x-ray scanner along with my shoes and my bag and was beltless to begin with. I was however wearing a fleece sweatshirt over my shirt and I was asked to remove that too. What the hell was this, airstrip tease? This time I convinced myself that I should be flattered. Since I could see no material reason for this request (in both senses of the term) I decided that they must have wanted to ogle my glorious breasts. At first I imagined this theory confirmed when the fleece top that had so concerned them and whose removal was so indispensable was forgotten in the machine. When I impatiently asked if they were done scanning it and if I could have it back they had no idea what I was referring to. Then I realized that the water bottle scenario was playing itself out again with another thirsty-but-not-quite-thirsty-enough traveler and the same portly guard still standing squarely in front of the garbage can. So much for my breasts; and so much for “security.” Evidently it is too difficult for five guards to enforce beverage container disposal and watch the x-ray monitor simultaneously.

When I finally made it through security (“Wow, they must be thorough if it takes them so long to monitor just one scrawny little woman!” some poor schlub desperate for reassurance must have been thinking) I was tired and frustrated. So, looking for a way to blow off some steam, I decided to provoke a nasty quarrel with the “courtesy phone.”

Not everything at the airport was bad though. With CNN blasting in the waiting area I learned two astonishing things: (1) that Anna Nicole Smith was dead and that the cause of death would not be known for several weeks. (What a relief, how else would the news channels have had enough time to prepare the tributes she so deserved before the case was shut and closed? Now they would have adequate time to prepare these stories and maybe even a little to spare to give us a few details about Iraq as well.) (2) That Barak Obama was running for president. (I’ve got to admit, his announcement floored me.) I am also happy to report that after having had the opportunity to view the safety procedure video on the plane again (it had been a solid four months since I had seen it) I am now relatively confident that I know how to properly attach and detach the seatbelt—confident enough anyway that I think I’ll still remember how to do it next week for the return flight home.


Robert said...

Thank you for your comments; I love the French (mostly as individuals) and France- town and country too. Forgive me if on occasions I slip the odd joke at their expense, it is only healthy school boy rivalry. I even had a French girl friend a long time ago, she was very sweet. We were 13 and I lived in Masions Lafitte near Paris.

Your latest story sounds fun. I read a wonderful blog by an English Mother in France on her trip home by air. It may put you off having children but reminded me of so many trips with our four in cars and ferries to France. I still have our youngest here on "half Term" from school so I shall be busy this week. Safe journey home and “may the security chaps go with you”!

The one to read is called Valentine

Robert said...

Guess what we are having for lunch! See my Dorset blog.

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