Some people like to make a point. Such people are the bane of my existence. Yes, I have the unhappy role of working in Airline Security, Inc. I have been doing it for twenty years, but recently I have noticed that people are feeling a bit repressed by all of the safety measures we have in place. Take the other day when I was testing out a Body Scanning Machine Thingy (BSMT). This middle-aged man walks up in a skeleton suit, one of those black, formfitting onezies with a skeleton painted in white on the front and back. The guy thought he was pretty funny. So, yes, these are the things I have to deal with. Mostly I try to humor the customers, because, of course, they go through a lot on an average airplane flight. Then there’s Lola, one of the ‘trying to make a point’ people, and, yes, a Bane! Strikingly beautiful, but nonetheless…
Lola Richardson flies often for her job as a consultant. As to what kind, I had always guessed “hair” because she changes that quite often––different colors, textures, lengths. Actually, the only thing she keeps the same about her appearance are her boots. The first time she came through, one morning on her way to Dallas, I thought that maybe she’d forgotten about having to slip off one’s shoes to send through the scanner. I greeted her with an indulgent smile and asked where she was off to. She flirted and said how she’d never flown from this airport before.
Let me tell you about Lola’s boots: Purple shiny fake leather that goes up to mid-thigh, including all twenty-one crowded sets of lace holes, five-inch heels made of some indestructible material that, although not hazardous, is thus-far unidentifiable. When I ask her as I always do, where she got them, Lola shrugs and says, “I didn’t know you were also the fashion police.” We make this exchange quite often since she comes through security four times a week.
The first time Lola came through, she sent her numerous carry-on boxes and bags down the conveyor belt––each of which seemed to scatter annoying glitter and sequins everywhere (Even now, when I stand in front of the mirror to check the progress of my balding head, I find glitter nestled in the crevices of my face.) and stopped abruptly, causing the line of people in back of her to wobble. Ever so nonchalantly, Lola lifted her right foot up, placing the heel on the conveyor belt. She stretched out, much like a ballerina doing her exercises and undid all twenty-one laces as slowly as possible. We had to open up two new stations just to compensate. Some of her fellow travelers giggled, getting the joke, but most just wanted to make their flights. When she started in on her second boot I asked if she could speed it up a bit. She looked up at me with her fantastic wide brown eyes and said, sweet as honey, “Oh, I’m sorry, am I inconveniencing you?” Bane. Bane, bane, bane of my existence! The airport would like to ban her, but I tell them that’s only inviting trouble. So yes, we watched her undo her second boot, both of which went through the scanner just fine. Her bags, however, were filled with shampoo bottles, hairspray, suntan lotion, face cream and the like. As we, sadly, threw each bottle away, she pulled out a store receipt and said loudly what each item cost.
“Our liquid carry-on policy is clearly stated on the signs just to your left, the signs as you enter, and the notices on our website.” I hissed, but Lola only arched a perfect brown eyebrow and stared at me. “Yes, and how much safer I do feel. I suppose I’ll get this stuff back on my return flight? Or will you bring your aging girlfriend a new face cream this evening?” After that it was again with the re-lacing of the boots––and this she did much faster, sitting on a bench by herself. She packed away all of her empty bags into another empty bag and clip-clopped off to her gate.
One day, not so long ago, I asked Lola what exactly she was a consultant for.
“Security, of course.” She answered as she handed me her black leather jacket with the zippers and buttons made of gunmetal.
Originally written in 2010. ––P. Beldona