I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but I’m a very innocuous looking person. There’s nothing suspicious, strange or fabulously exotic about my physical person. You’ll see me and the next minute you won’t remember what I looked like.
It’s a problem.
Why, you wonder?
Well, airport security personnel is very cautious about “not profiling,” especially in the US, but elsewhere as well. So they pick me to search and pat down and question. That way they can’t be accused of profiling because the only profile I fit is no profile.
I travel with my man a lot, but it’s always me they pull out. I’m used to it. It’s my lot in life to get searched and groped in airports. Better than in a dark alley, I’m thinking.
One of my favorite airports is Schiphol, Amsterdam. Since this is my birth-country airport it is not surprising I’ve spent many hours there, coming and going. Here are two of my more gentle security experiences there:
Some years ago now: I’m at the gate, waiting for my flight to Washington DC. I’ll be in the US for a week to visit the kids and then go back to Ramallah, Palestine where I live the expat life at the time of this writing. I’ll have to fly to Tel Aviv in Israel, then go on by car.
A tall, handsome Dutch security guy in a spiffy uniform asks for my documents. He smiles at me. He has very nice teeth, I notice. I’m sure he smells nice too, but I’m not really close enough to tell. I’m sorry, I digress. I’m a romance writer and fantasize a lot.
“Are you familiar with airport security checks?” he asks politely. If he’d checked my passport first (and seen the many colorful stamps, visas and exotic alphabets therein) he would not have found it necessary to ask, but hey, he’s doing his job.
“Yes,” I say, “I’m especially fond of the Tel Aviv variety.”
He breaks out in a broad grin. “Oh, but we are so much nicer here!” he says.
(If you are not familiar with the security procedures at Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, google it and all will be revealed.)
I love the funky art at the Amsterdam Airport
Another trip, another time, again at Amsterdam Airport, Schiphol:
I’m once again waiting for a flight to the US, and at the gate extra security is in progress. Once again I’m pulled out to get a pat down. The female security person who asks me to step aside now hands me over to a young blonde thing in training, who looks nervously at me.
“Do you speak English?” she asks softly.
I tell her I do, but Dutch will work too.
“Oh, good,” she says, and takes a deep breath. “This is my first time,” she whispers. “I haven’t done this before.” She gives me a pleading look.
I am aware now that the older agent is watching us, checking up on her charge. I smile at the girl, take the position: legs wide, arms out. “Go for it,” I tell her, “do your thing.”
And she does, quite expertly, no longer nervous.
“Thank you for being so nice,” she says when she’s done.
I’ve done my good deed for the day. For an airport security person no less. Go figure.
Expat life is not all about big exotic adventures. It’s the little ones that count too.
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Go ahead, tell me your airport tales, nice or otherwise. I know you have some!