Airport Guard

“Alright next,” the airport security guard announced, his million repetitions of the same speech crystal clear in its delivery “feet on the yellow footprints, hands on the yellow hand prints”. His tone and manner completely professional but I was about to interrupt his normal work flow.

As some people would put it there is an air of ‘mild bad luck’ that follows me when travelling through airports.  Nothing ever goes incredibly wrong, in my mind it leads to stories to tell at a later date.  Bags get searched for suspected weird items, pulled aside and making friends with a trainee search dog, that sort of ‘bad luck’.  This time however was a one of a kind occurrence with a high-tech system.

The line of travellers moved forward step by step.  All of us having done our own little airport strip.  Putting our belongings into the grey plastic boats and setting them to sail down the slow conveyor belt.  One by one those in front of me entered alone the large plastic tube standing before us, on the command of the guards.  Adopting the correct position as they played the simple game of twister, feet apart and hands against the smooth plastic wall.  The sliding door completed the bubble around them, sealing them off from the world.  The vertical scanning arm accelerated into a full circle around the tube, searching the occupant’s body.  Then given the all clear they stroll out the other door.

The security guard gestured me forward with a wave of his hand accompanying his well-rehearsed speech, with a practiced polite smile but no real care behind his eyes.

“Feet on the yellow footprint, hands on the yellow hand prints” he repeated once again.

The machine’s arm whirled around like a satellite orbiting a planet.  But the door on the other side didn’t open immediately.  A few seconds passed.  Left standing in this tube.  A few seconds more.  The guards head leaned into view through the clear door, throwing me a quizzical look.  His focus flicked between me standing in the plastic bubble and the small screen behind the back of the machine.  A much more human energy emanated from his eyes, replacing the routine politeness they held previously.  The early pulls of a slight smirk stretched the edges of his mouth.  Whatever appeared on the screen had certainly broken up the monotonous security work.

“Alright, out you come,” he muttered, now smiling at me and triggering the door to open up “I’ve just got to do a manual check” holding up a traditional hand held metal detector.

“That’s absolutely fine” I answered stepping from my bubble and stretching my arms out to my sides.  It took only a few moments for him to verify whatever had come up on the screen.  By that point he was almost chuckling to himself.

“Now usually people don’t ever see the screen after a scan but you should see this” nodding his head for me to follow.  “The yellow squares are places the scanner has detected metal” pointing at a small display “and, well, see for yourself”.  Bemusement filled his voice, a stark difference from the formal and imposing tone he spoke with before.  A stranger transformed into a friend wanting to share a joke.  What he pointed to was the outline of a human body, a simple plain black outline much like that of a gingerbread man.  The reason behind his demeanour change was clear.  The little figure on the screen was covered in yellow.  Head to toe.  Little yellow squares smothered the poor gingerbread man.

“So either something has gone wrong with my machine, or you’re Wolverine,” now not able to hide the entertainment in his voice

“That’s ridiculous, its saying I’m literally made of metal.”

“Yep, never seen that happen before.  Well if you are Wolverine, please don’t kill me, I can keep your secret” he feigned pleading before laughing from the depths of his belly “enjoy your day Wolverine.  Alright, next.” The formal professionalism returned to his voice calling the next person through. 

With that our interaction was over, just as quickly as it had all begun.


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