Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Dread 'SSSS"

You don't want to see this printed across the right bottom edge of your boarding pass because it means you are about to be subjected to all of the delights of a full security search.

My bags were going through the x-ray machine at Charles DeGaulle and I had just stepped into the metal-detecvtor doorway holding my boarding pass and passport. A uniformed man stepped forward, took my passport and walked off with it -- not a word to me.

A uniformed lady then stepped forward and wanded me, but the French do not use a wand, they use their gloved hands. To say it is thorough is understatement. It is also in full view of all the other passengers. She passed my well-padded ribs and in a gesture of amiability I remarked, "Too much good French food!" but she was unreceptive. Not that I expected diet tips; it was just something to say.

She waved me through and directed me to the guy with my passport who was standing in front of a table. My bags appeared, another lady unzipped all of them and pawed through them (with gloved hands.)

Figuring that was that.. but I was wrong. Another woman approached holding a stick with a piece of wet paper towel (?) inserted into one end and she proceeded to swab the interior of both bags and the palms of both hands. She then motioned me to go on.

I started to step out (smartly, you may be sure) when I realized that Richie, behind me, was
also getting the full treatment. Not wanting to be associated with what might turn out to be a known criminal, I cruised on ahead and waited a prudent distance away.

I know! Loyalty is a fault with me. Happily he was as innocent as I and we proceeded to our gate.

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