“Do you have a laptop sir” a Chinese security guard standing by the entrance to the baggage scanner at Beijing Airport asked. He, like the rest of the many security guards is dressed in a smart navy blue uniform. The uniform had a shield like American sheriffs have on their arm and there were two white strips below the shield on the same sleeve.
I nodded in agreement and reached into my laptop bag, took the laptop and placed it in the red plastic basket he was offering me.
“Anything in your pockets Sir” I nodded the negative as I had put my mobile phone in my laptop bag before reaching the check point.
“Jacket Sir”, the request to take off your jacket and put it through the scanner was not that unusual. I was wearing a big green and white wind cheater to ward of the freezing Beijing winter winds. I slipped my jacket off and put it in the second plastic tray he offered me.
I was now standing in a sleeveless dark blue jerkin and a long sleeved blue denim shirt. I had taken to travelling in the jerkin as it gave me lots of pockets to put junk in and with zip up pockets I could safely put my wallet and other valuable items in.
I stepped through the people scanner, and the damn thing went off. I couldn’t think what I might have on me that was metal. I patted myself down and went through my pockets. I couldn’t find anything that was in the slightest bit metal.
The lady hand wand scanner was busy with other future passengers who had made the people scanner beep.. She was a very attractive young Chinese girl who looked particularly stunning in her neatly pressed navy blue uniform. Her smile was extremely becoming and she was chatting to her current client. I thought to myself she can pat me down any time. She appeared to have taken no notice of the discreet beep I had made coming through the scanner.
There was so little attention paid to my little blip that I thought it actually might not have been me that beeped and it could have been from the scanner next door, I moved to pick up my bag. My cutie security guard looked at me directly and with the nicest of smiles said.
“Wait there please”
How could a man refuse, if the lady wanted me to wait for her I was going to wait, I had nothing in my pockets a self check had already proved that and I was happy to have her move her hands all over me and pat me down so she could prove it to herself.
She finished with her current passenger and let them proceed. At the same time she politely invited me to step up on to her little wooden podium that she used to perform her wand waving ritual. I complied with pleasure.
Waving her wand down my right side she found something, it was my wallet. It had no metal in it, I knew that, just Chinese money and every credit card and identity plastic card I owned, but it sent the hand wand alarm off in violent excitement. She snatched the wallet from me. I did not pay attention to what she did with it, she excitedly scanned the same place immediately and to her delight the scanner went beep again. I put my hand in my pocket found a plastic pen. Strange, I thought, not a metal object but I took it out of my pocket and held it.
In for the kill, she scanned the same place again and found a comb, I was beginning to feel a little agitated, she was still smiling and she was just as pretty but I was getting a little annoyed with her.
After having a clean sweep of my right side she went to the left side with her scanner and instantly found my bottle of heart pills. She scanned again this time she found paper junk in my pocket. Paper junk, I was getting very annoyed now. Who builds a scanner that finds paper receipts from the cab you just took to the airport.
In my hand they went with the now growing list of items found buried in my jerkin. Each time she scanned she found something and I had to take the stuff out of my pocket put in my now overloaded hand before raising my hands back in the air. I had a fist full of shit and the crowd behind me was growing as that damn people scanner kept going beep every time some one went through it.
She found my passport, my air ticket, some tissues I had used and stuffed back in my pocket and she just kept on going. Her face was solemn, and she treated each item as if she had found another piece of a human bomb. . She scanned my back, patted down my legs, my hips, I was feeling like some sort of terrorist sent there to blow up the airport with four snotted tissues and an unwashed plastic comb. I was getting mad at the bitch and she scanned yet again, this time I thankful I was clean.
She directed me to pick up my junk, I went to get my wallet and it wasn’t there. I tried to think what I had done with it. I started to panic I knew I had taken it out of my pocket but I wasn’t sure if I had given it to the security officer or what. Could someone have stolen it while I was standing there? I asked the guy operating the scanner conveyor belt where my wallet was.
“Wait sir” he said with a smile in a perfect Chinese smile.
“Wait for fucking what I have lost my wallet and that bitch took my wallet where is it?” I was aware that I probably had wasted my distinct Australian vernacular on this Chinese speaking gentleman.
He just said, “Wait sir.”
“Wait for what! Wait for who! Why the fuck am I waiting?” I was arguing with myself I am sure he didn’t understand a word I as saying.
Agitated I resorted to raising myself up and down on the balls of my feet while staring at all the security people. So frustrating, nobody was listening to me, my wallet was gone some bastard had taken my wallet and I wanted to yell it out loud. I just didn’t think anybody cared or was listening and if they were they didn’t understand my language.
“Pack your laptop” Ordered the security guard with a heavy Chinese accent. I had nothing else to do and I wasn’t moving without my wallet so I packed my laptop.
When I had finished packing my lap top I asked the guy again like a boy at school who has just successfully completed a task the teacher gave him.
“Please mister security man I have finished packing my lap top can you now take the fucking time to help me find my fucking wallet?”
Without an answer there was nothing else I could do. I picked up my jacket and went through the pockets in a last ditch effort to find my wallet. I reasoned, I might not even have had my jacket when frisked by Mrs Gestapo over there. Perhaps I had put the jacket on the conveyor belt before then and my wallet might be in it. Trying to hide my frustration in the events that were unfolding I scurried through the pockets of the jacket in some sort of fantasy thought that the said wallet might magically appear. No such luck.
I faced the security guy again and said, “Help me find my wallet” I was a broken man and near tears, my plea a whimper.
He smiled at me, reached into the scanning machine and pulled out one of those red plastic trays. Sitting in the middle of this particular red plastic tray was a brown leather object with cards and Chinese money spilling out. It looked exactly like my wallet.
He handed the object to me and with a big grin he said, “Thank you for you cooperation sir” he was such a nice gentleman.
I picked up my laptop bag, shoved my wallet deep in my jerkin pocket and zipped it up. I nodded a thank you with a forced smile and turned to leave. Mrs Gestapo was still scanning people but she took the time to turn to me and smile and say “Thank you sir for your cooperation”
I think these two went to the same school they had certainly read the same phrase book. I left them making beeps on some other poor bastard who was also pulling endless junk out of his pockets.