Helen Keller once said that ‘life is either a daring adventure or nothing.’ Never is it more adventurous than when travelling – and travel to or from America requires the most daring spirit of all if one is to make it through those security procedures with the soul intact. Every time I make the trip from the USA back to The Motherland, I arrive at the other end shaking like a jellyfish after all the prodding and poking one gets subjected to. And, mouse-like as I am, I’m the poor sap who’s always singled out for extra probing.
Take the time when I was returning from America after visiting family. As it was the height of summer, naturally I was casually dressed in shorts and a T-shirt and on my feet was a pair of flip-flops. An unobjectionable ensemble, the casual observer might remark to himself. But obviously the keen-eyed, highly intelligent operatives of the Transport Security Administration recognised a terrorist when they saw one. There I was, nonchalantly about to enter the security gate, when suddenly there were shouts all about me, bright lights went off and SWAT teams emerged dramatically from the ceiling. Not only was I rather aggressively searched several times, but my flip-flops were carefully dissected (flip-flops I tell you!) and examined from every angle until finally they were persuaded that I was not a threat to public safety, and was allowed to go on my merry way.
Needless to say, after that experience, the extra screening, scanning and interrogation that inevitably accompany each of my jaunts around America are almost welcomed. Now, after sharing so many of these intimate moments with the friendly security officials at my local airport, I’m beginning to get to know them quite well indeed.