We were taking our time to go through the security check in at the airport again – although it felt like not only again, but again and again and again: yet another long dawdling queue, impatient at the pace of the technology and resentful of the intrusive impositions provided by the uniformed jobsworths who seemed to delight in making our transit to a better place as awkward as possible.
One of the more brutish members of the security professionals stared at us whilst barking instructions. Laptops, bags, jackets, belts and shoes were all discarded as per usual. Apart from one guy behind us who took at offence at the instruction to take off his belt.
“My trousers will fall down,” he protested.
“No they won’t.” Brutish officer shot him a look which would have made the rest of us in the queue quail and jump back into line.
“They will,” he insisted and to prove the point, he removed his long black leather belt with a flourish and his chinos promptly dropped to a saggy heap around his feet. The queue looked on in silence, choosing to gaze at his ankles, knees or groin, depending on their age and predilection.
“See? What I tell you?” his voice rising with indignation. “And since you are so desirous of stripping my identity to make sure I cannot possibly harm you, then why not take this as well?”
At which point he pulled up his tie’n’dye purple shirt over his head and threw it at the brutish officer who was continuing to gaze at him completely unmoved. “Is this what you want from me? Then by all means you shall have it.” And with a blink of his heavily hooded eyelids, he slipped his fading underpants off his waist and stood, bollock naked in front of the silenced queue and the brutish officer.
“You want to prove I am not hiding anything – then here you are, go ahead, search me. Put me into your machine and search my every orifice with every instrument you have available in your state apparatus.”
Brutish officer signalled to her colleague to get her to pick up the man’s clothes, wordless, just continuing to hold his stare. Her colleague moved slowly towards him and we were all holding our breath as to what would happen next. The police couldn’t be far away now could they? There would be a security clamp down or something wouldn’t there? Who was going to make the next move? In the distance we could hear the barking of dogs.
He leapt up onto the conveyor belt, knocking all the trays of laptops, mobile phones and loose change onto the floor. “Here I am, look at me, you can look at all of me.” he yelled as he lay down length ways on the conveyor belt. “Start it up! Start it Up! Scan me from tip to toe!”
“A reasonable response to an unreasonable request” muttered someone behind me which unluckily for him, drew the attention of brutish officer in his direction. He withered, the sun tan draining from his skin visibly before our eyes.
Good sense prevailed in the end though. Fortunately no one responded to the traveller’s insistence that they switch on the conveyor belt, so he was stuck there, his feet behind the black plastic drapes at the front of the machine and the rest of his body laying there, prone and bronzed, his arms crossed on his chest, in front of us all. We started to pick up our lap tops, mobile phones and loose change and asked the officers where we should go. They gesticulated to us to form a line by the neighbouring scanning machine which we all dutifully did. Happily for all of us, the new queue didn’t have any obtuse travelling members of the public in it so we were able to go about our business swiftly and efficiently. Our group briskly made its way to the airport gate and we were relieved to find that we hadn’t missed our flight.
We never did find out what did happen to the traveller who had prostrated himself naked on the conveyor belt but were pleased not to have been caught up in a potentially unpleasant scene with the brutish officer, the police and the security dogs that would have eventually turned up at the scene. Waiting in security queues is unquestionably a tedious thing to do, we agreed between ourselves, but it’s better than having to answer questions about who said what to whom and why. That’s the last thing a group of air travellers want to be doing on their way to their better place.