Here’s my problem. I look a bit like I could be a drug dealer. At airports, sometimes this proves to be a little unfortunate.
Now admittedly, my choice of dress often doesn’t really help matters. What I think of as louche, slightly disheveled chic, does not necessarily appear that way to the average customs officer. I do find that I will regularly get singled out for a bit of special attention and a few extra questions, especially when I fly to or from Amsterdam.
This time, for my flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas, I did something that I will never do again. I wore my sandals to travel and in my early morning haste to pack, I put one shoe in my check in luggage and one in my hand baggage. This proved to be somewhat of an error on my part.
When my bag went through the x-ray machine I new there was a problem when three people stopped to point at the machine. Now I usually forget to take some liquids out and once I carried a 32 pack of batteries which on the x-ray looked like a large slab of metal. So I was ready to be asked the favourite question of airport security officers everywhere "Is this your bag, sir?"
This time it was followed up by the double whammy of:
"Is this your shoe, sir?"
"And how many feet do you have, sir?"
This guy clearly had me bang to rights here. I had only one shoe, but two feet. It was an open and shut case. As I launched into a complicated explanation to remedy the situation, I heard the unwelcome snap of rubber gloves being put on and the phrase "Please come with me, sir"
So it was another first on the trip. The first time I was backroomed at an airport. It was actually quite an interesting experience and I tried to lay on my best bumbling English Hugh Grant style persona to avoid the full body search. With much relief, it didn't come to that and I was able to explain things to them. I think it was probably a slow day for them terrorist-wise, so they wanted something to do. One thing that I didn't understand was why they spent about ten minutes finely dusting my sandals with a small brush whilst I made smalltalk to the customs officer about the baseball playoffs. Perhaps there was still sand on them that resembled explosive materials? Who knows?
Eventually I was released without charge to take my flight.
The scariest thing about the whole experience was that I had to walk barefoot down a long dirty corridor.
If I get verrucas, I'll be filing a lawsuit for sure.