Post 9/11, travel regulations and airport security screenings have become so excruciatingly strict and tight that they can deflate the excitement of even the diehard romantic in nanoseconds. It all starts with the park and fly routine. Finding a parking spot for your car at the airport becomes next to impossible and you keep driving around and around to the point where it makes you wonder if the entire population of the city is flying out that day. Finally, you do snag a spot at the farthest end of the terminal, and when you go in from the zero degree cold outside for your security check inside, you find your body temperature has automatically risen because of your blood boiling at all the obstacles you are made to go through by the security personnel.
Jackets and coats are taken off, shoes are removed and so are belts, pockets are emptied - cell phones, keys, coins and all, laptops, iPods, iPads, cameras and handycams are out, cleansers, gels, and shampoos have already been shoved into the checked in baggage, and just when you think you've done everything right and are going to sail through, the security officer spies the make up bottles and tubes in your handbag and takes you out of the line for a more thorough physical examination of your handbag. He just wants to make sure that those mini bottles don't have potentially lethal chemicals in them that can light a fire on the aircraft. Then there was the time that I was travelling to England for a wedding and was carrying some gold jewellery in a cylindrical bangle box with gold chains stuffed inside in order to minimize the number of jewellery boxes I was carrying, and it apparently looked like a rudimentary bomb on the x-ray screen that I was taken aside for a thorough check. It all ended up with the women security officers oohing and aahing over my jewellery pieces, which only goes to show that women are women everywhere, whatever their position might be!
On one of our vacation trips to mark a birthday in the family, the kid bought a few souvenirs for his friends that included a couple of snowglobes. After we had checked in our bags and were going through the final security check near the boarding gate, we were told that the snowglobes couldn't be taken in the hand baggage and had to be checked in. I suggested we just dump the globes in the trash, but the kid was adamant that his friends needed them, so the husband had to go all the way back to check them in, while the kid and I were standing like lost souls, eyeing the serpentine line waiting to go through security, and see if the husband had made it back to the end of the line after all. After an extra 30-minute wait, he did eventually join us and we made it home without any further hassles. At times like those, all the draconian rules of airline travel make me rethink the wisdom of leaving home in the first place. And that lasts for some time, until the travel bug bites me again and the excitement starts building up all over again. I never seem to learn, anyways!