As I am excitedly starting to plan out my Australia trip for this coming summer, I am wondering what it will be like to leave Australia. Sounds strange, I know. See, I know it will be a lovely and empowering trip. I will be going to a country I have always wanted to visit and I will be presenting some of my new groundbreaking research. My son will be joining me and will have the opportunity to see me present and do my thing on a stage. He will get to see me as a professional who can command an audience (or so I hope) outside of home. Australia, thus, promises to be grand in so many ways.
Now how many times has a trip been lovely to only then have its shiny memory veneer be slightly (for a second) chipped by the departure. Getting through security, not understanding the rules, almost missing one’s flight can all be part of the departure experience that can color one’s perspective.
In Rome, for instance, we barely made our flight to the horrendously long initial psychological profiling line. We waited two hours just to be asked a myriad of questions to assess our travel state of mind. Then we were allowed to go check into our flight and then we were shuttled over to our terminal. When we had asked the locals how long before our flight should we get to the airport they said about two hours. However, why should locals be expected to know what it’s like for a foreigner to depart their country.
When we were leaving Austria, there was a moment of panic as we waited in the line to get through our gate’s security line. First off, Americans are not used to gate’s having their own security gate. It feels like we are corralled in a tiny space unnecessarily so when we are already going to be spending many hours together on a small tight space on the plane. Anyway, as we were standing in the line security personnel kept combing the lines with really gnarly looking German Shepard dogs. Then they demanded to see our travel itinerary. We had our print out. Other’s before me were not so lucky and had to go all the way back to somewhere to get a printed copy of their travel itinerary. The panic on people’s faces was frightening. I was happy to get through the line and be corralled.
In the Bahamas, you go through American Customs and immigration desk there. I had a luggage snafu while in the Bahamas and had to bring my items in a bag. They pulled up that bag on their screen, while going through the immigration and customs desk, and kept asking me what was in it and the nature of the presentation I did. I gave the whole spiel about the behavioral components of biomedical advancements and I know I saw the agent’s eyes glaze over. I finally got through but I was tired from having to do my presentation again for an audience of one. Cest la vie, I suppose.
Recently, I had a grand time in Panama. I arrived to the airport with plenty of time to get through the rather long checkin line for my well-hidden airline. It took forever to find the airline desk since I didn’t fly Copa airlines. We were told that even after going through the initial security gate, we would not be able to purchase soda or milk to take on board. That was a bit bizarre to me. I had never experienced that before. Furthermore, we then of course, had to go through another security line at our specific gate. There they randomly pulled me out of the line and searched everything in my bag. They pulled out my notebook and looked at what was written in there. They pulled out my business cards from the holder and went through each of them one by one. I was not the only person they did this to. I saw the, do this extensive search to three other women. I truly do not know what was the point of going through each of my business cards but I offered her one to go along with my confiscated hair gel. She noted however that she was being gracious in letting me keep the children’s tylenol I had in my bag for my son who had suffered a bad ear ache during the last flight landing.
These departures don’t mar the beauty of the cities and countries I visited but they do make that trek home even more relished.
The take home lesson: give yourself plenty of time when heading to the airport and don’t write “redrum” all over your notebook.
Happy travels to and from home!