No Slipping Past Airport Security
Young Adult Fiction Author Style
Since I left the corporate world to write full-time, my wardrobe needs have changed. My charcoal and navy suits are collecting dust in my closet, praying a wedding will thrust them into the limelight once again. Now I favor pajama pants and slippers. Pretty much around the clock. My descent into slipperdom involved a minor international incident, though.
I was never a slipper guy. I’m 42. Slippers were for grandma. I never “got” them, and assumed it was too late to change. That is, until I received a pair of Ugg slippers for my birthday last year. Your feet are warm! You don’t slip, or get your socks wet around the dog’s water bowl! These things are a godsend. If I go on a day trip, I pack slippers. If I walk ten feet to the bathroom, I slide on the Uggs. These days I have the super advanced kind that look like sneakers, which you can wear outside. With my updated slipper game I barely wear anything else. Drive to the store? Slippers. Play with Buddy (my Great Dane) in the yard? Please. I’m not lacing up.
Big boy slippers
There are some downsides to my newfound slipper addiction. If you’ve ever worn the same pair of socks for too long, you might have noticed your skin gets sore. Cue the violins, I know. Along with a steady rotation of dad-pajama-pants, I wear slippers roughly eighteen hours a day. You need to mix it up. Back in my slipper infancy, I only had the Uggs though. *Lightbulb goes off* I had
swiped borrowed a pair of hotel slippers from the Leela Palace in Bangalore, India last summer on a family trip. (Side note: hotel slippers are ideal for long flights—you want shoes off, but the ability to walk to the bathroom. Sorry, socks to an airplane lavatory are not okay.)
The problem with hotel slippers is they begin to disintegrate in about four days. Unsurprisingly, they are not built to last. That white terrycloth becomes gray and then brown. After the four-day lifecycle of my Leela Palace slippers expired, it looked like I had two dead squirrels on my feet. Still, I enjoyed the hotel-slipper style, a nice contrast to the Ugg “shoe” slipper. My wife noted both my brief love affair with, and the ratty condition of, said slippers. She made it clear I would be receiving new slippers for Christmas, meaning I could not run out and buy a pair. On a four-day trip to the French countryside in November, I saw an opportunity.
When I travel with my family, I always get my own room. It’s not extravagance, it’s logistics. While my wife and daughter tuck in around 9pm, I stay up till 4am writing. I can’t very well have the light on or be munching Doritos. So, for each hotel we stayed in, that meant at least three sets of slippers (one in mine, two in theirs). We stayed in different hotels each of four nights in southwest France as we jaunted around. I netted twelve pairs of slippers. Jackpot! Does anyone know the official rules of hotel slippers? Are you allowed to take them? I know you can’t take the robe. But the slippers they can’t reuse. Nevertheless, I hate the idea of the housekeepers gossiping about “those guests” that heisted all the slippers. I hustled the family out of each hotel before the hotel etiquette police were notified.
My only problem was getting them home. My wife and daughter travel light, and were perfectly fine carrying-on to France. Me, not so much. I use the excuse that I’m big (I’m six foot three), and thus my clothes, shoes, etc. are voluminous. This is true. But really I just pack a lot of stuff. Under pressure to carry on, I relented. Not only did I need to pack four days of clothes into my carry-on, I needed to leave room for the slippers.
By the end of the trip, my bag was majority slippers. And it was barely zip-able. But whatever, I got it done. We returned out of Paris on the one-year anniversary of their horrific 2015 terrorist attack. Needless to say, security in the airport was tight. I love flying and airplanes, but airports are not my friend. It’s just unfortunate that I look like me. Because I look like a terrorist. I’m half Indian, one-quarter Irish and one-quarter Italian. Apparently that particular combination resembles ISIS. If writing doesn’t work out, I may take my talents (appearance) to the CIA because I could be from ANYWHERE. Spain, the Middle East, South America, Italy… I blend.
If I don’t smile, I get “randomly” selected 100% of the time
I don’t approve of racial profiling of course because it’s wrong, but at the same time, I can’t blame them. I would search me too. So I don’t mind, until it gets to be a little too much. If my body has been examined and my bags X-rayed a dozen times, what more is there left to find? After multiple searches, we were waiting at the gate and I was eager to get on the plane to
write watch movies.
I don’t care about status in life, whether it’s membership to some exclusive club, knowing someone famous or anything like that. Except when it comes to flying. The only status I enjoy is being American Airlines Platinum, which is due to frequent travel, not being special. A major advantage of flying business is getting to board first. So, when boarding began, and we got pulled out of line AGAIN, I got annoyed. As the chumps in Group 6 were bumping into me as they passed, my frustration grew.
After making us stand there for a while, an American Airlines employee began firing questions at us. Why were you in France? Where did you stay? Did you enjoy the cheese? Where’s your beret? I may have been a little testy with her. She rewarded me by selecting me for a further security check. Thank you. My wife and daughter totally left me in the dust, boarding without looking back. I think my daughter muttered “sucker.” I grumbled.
An airport I’ve probably been searched in
The search happened halfway down the jetway, the little mobile tunnel that leads from the gate to the plane. A uniformed guard, who managed to be snooty without even speaking, made me remove my belt and shoes. He patted me down, and gave me the wand treatment. “Put your bag on ze table,” he said.
I put my bag on “ze” table.
It was practically bursting at the seams. He grabbed the zipper, struggling to get it started.
Realizing what was about to happen, I fought off a smile.
Wait for it…
In one grand motion he unzipped the bag, relieving the pressure that had percolated for hours.
The brand new slippers exploded out of the bag, pummeling him in the face, and scattering them about the jetway. With each pair wrapped in slippery clear plastic, they slid all over the place.
It was something like this (Credit: The Daily Dot)
The Group Six’ers had to tiptoe around the slippers, hoisting their wheeled luggage in the air, to get past. They flashed me dirty looks.
I’ll admit, I was a little embarrassed.
“What is zis?” the disgusted guard asked.
I blushed, and shrugged. I was picturing the security footage making the news, or at least FailArmy. As humiliated as I was, I also didn’t want them to confiscate my slippers.
He shook his head and called another guy over. They spoke French so while I didn’t literally understand, it was clear they were speaking the international language of making fun of a stupid American.
I made a move to pick up a nearby pair of slippers and the guard stopped me, like don’t touch the evidence. Was I going to be arrested? Or just clowned for a while?
After they got the giggles out, the original guard had me gather the slippers and pile them on the table. He foolishly tried to repack the bag. Doing it the first time was like proving Desargues’s Theorem, a masterpiece of geometry, a 3D puzzle if you will. He couldn’t even come close to getting all the slippers back in. At least it appeared I’d get to keep them.
At this point, I was the only one not on the plane. I grabbed my bag and an armful of slippers, boarded, and took my seat. I did note my wife and daughter pretending not to know me. Whatever. I tore open a fresh pair of slippers, sunk my feet into them, and enjoyed the flight home with wonderfully warm feet. If you aren’t a slipper person, I highly recommend them. Just watch out going through airport security.
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