My flight from Toronto to Winnipeg could not have been any more Canadian unless Bob and Doug McKenzie themselves had been the flight attendants ("Hey. You gotta pay fer the meels now, eh. Take off!"). I was lodged firmly between a Native guy and a group of Revenue Quebec auditors flying to Winnipeg to verify the revenue of Manitoba companies who have offices in Quebec. I usually find plane trips pretty sterile and unfriendly, the atmosphere set by the trolley dollies and their little fake smiles. But this flight was different. We chatted for the entire two and a half hour flight. Waves of bilingualism wafted over the aisles. It was like a CBC movie about "typical" Canadians and how we share our experiences and celebrate each other's diversity and all that crap. It was a fun time, eh. Mets-en.
I had been lucky to have been let on the flight at all. Left over from the days when I had a job that required be to carry the equivalent of an entire desk around with me everywhere, there was a pair of forgotten scissors in that very bag. As I reached to take it off the conveyor belt at security check-in the guard slammed her hand down on it.
"Sir, there are scissors in this bag. Can you show them to me?" Her eyes were firmly fixed on mine.
I know that not too long ago this might have been the reason to hold me for hours, and I calmly slipped into calm panic mode, where my voice gets all placid and serene while my mind fires off ten thousand non-sequiturial thoughts at the same time (Did I turn the coffee maker off?). I rifled through the bag, unsure of where I had left them months ago. I resisted the urge to say something like Well if I can't find them, I can't be too much of a security risk. I have found that people with supreme power don't appreciate the questioning of their authority. I learned that when I was nineteen with a West German border guard (way back when the was a country called West Germany). You don't need the story, but take it from me that the lesson was learned very, very well.
Once I had finally located them, the lecture began: I could still be charged. I have to be aware of what I'm doing. Did I leave my bag unattended for even a microsecond? I must learn to be a more responsible traveller. All the while, I hung my head contritely. I had no objection when she told me she would have to confiscate them. The scissors I bought at the dollar store?! Shriek!
I'm very glad for airport security, although it's a great pity that a single pair of scissors could cause such uproar. I also suspect that if my eyes were brown instead of green or if my last name began with "El-" or "Al-" or had a "q" or two unaccompanied by a "u", my treatment at the hands of the airport security guard for an innocent pair of scissors might have been quite different. What a world we have been born into.
And so here I am in the house in which I grew up. My old bedroom has become the computer room. My parents like spongey mattresses that give me a backache. I can't get into my comments for some reason on this computer so I am temporarily mute. I have been stuffed with good food and good cheer. I sit typing in my former bedroom, looking out the window at Winnipeg's beautiful, enormous elms and I remember why I used to think I would never leave this city.
***UPDATE - I am not totally mute. All I have to do is "edit" the comments from the Haloscan homepage***
Take Off, Eh
September 14, 2004
posted by GreyGuy on 14.9.04 | Permalink |
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