Harrowing Heathrow – London, England, United Kingdom, Europe

London's Heathrow airport was interesting again. Though I was merely transiting (Amsterdam to Los Angeles), security was tight.

This is how it works:

  • Stage 1: Stand in a long line
  • Stage 2: Stand in a longer line
  • Stage 3: Remove garments, undergarments, spectacles, false teeth, pacemaker and socks. Place in a plastic case. Stand in another line and pass through a security check where a robust gentleman examines every pore of your body.
  • Stage 4: Stand in a long line and wear your clothes in full view of six gazillion laughing passengers.

There were 1,356,287 people ahead of me. "Expect delays", advised a board.

I missed my flight after waiting for three days in the queue.

I went up to customer service and climbed over the corpse of an expired ex-passenger who had spent, it was rumoured, an entire lifetime waiting to board a flight – he was still clutching his discounted child-fare ticket in the bony, aged fingers of his right hand while holding a rattle in his left hand.

"I missed my flight," I said.

"How come?" asked the pretty lady, looking at her monitor and tapping away at the keys.

”I've been in the security queue for three days."

She looked up, her eyes wide, horrified. "Three days? THREE days?"

"Yes, three days."

"Sir, you are required to be at the airport one month before your actual flight! Everyone knows that!"

"A month? Isn't that a bit much?" I asked, dodging a lady behind me who had just fainted due to dehydration and starvation. She would possibly continue in this manner until she expired. Naturally, she would miss her flight.

"Security precautions. Anyway, let me see what we can do."

She liked my three-day-old stubble. She asked me to weigh myself on the machine next to her. Then she printed off a baggage tag, placed a bar code on my forehead, trussed me up, and sent me through to the cargo area from where I and some other passengers were lifted by a forklift and placed in the cargo hold of another LA bound flight – which is where I'm writing this letter, in pitch darkness using batteries. I shall download this letter to the board via parachute, I guess.

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