It all revolved around some expensive hand soap. My daughter has me hooked on L'Occitane hand soap and shower oil. I pretty much disapprove of spending extravagantly on such things that go down the drain, but it is beautiful stuff. The Verbena fragrance is especially wonderful, and the lavender is no slouch. It's not readily available in the rural Southwest so I was a moth to a flame when I had hours to spare in the Newark airport and I walked past a shop dedicated to just their products. Yes, I walked past and somewhere down the concourse I stopped and went back. I almost left empty-handed and then I bought a bottle of shower oil and a refill pouch of hand soap.
After miles of corridor and ups and downs, I rounded a corner and there was a security screening. I thought one more desperate thought that the Danes aren't really as picky as the USA and I should be able to slide by. One thing I have learned is that if you don't confess first and they find something, then you're in for a whole lot of trouble so I picked a nice young agent who looked to be (possibly) more sympathetic to a grandmother than maybe an older bitter guy, and I announced I had some liquids. He says it's ok as long as they are under 100 ml. I said I had bought them at the Newark airport, and he said its ok as long as they are in a sealed bag. Crap. I assured him that they weren't sealed and he said, let's have a look. Of course they were 500 and 250 ml and he carefully scrutinized the labels. People behind me were backing up and changing lanes... I gave some more lame excuses and begged him not to take them away and we appeared to be at a stalemate. After a few seconds of silence and a deep breath, he suggested I go out the exit, and check in my bag. This seemed like my only alternative... So I picked up my things and back tracked slowly to the passport control, wondering if it was worth $36. (I really like those products.) I had a five hour layover so I assured myself I could sacrifice a little time. I waited in line for the passport stamp. I wasn't even asked where I was going so I was spared an explanation of why I was exiting. Then I went to two ticket counters before I found the self-check-in. I printed out a boarding pass (which I didnt have up to that point) and a baggage check label and went to stand in line to drop off my bag. I let people by me. I was regretting this decision. I had checked two 40+ pound suitcases and now I was going to send along my little soft shoulder bag to accompany them, along with other tonnage. With two naked little plastic containers of liquid... What are the chances that it would be seen again? Or that it would be dripping soap all over everyone else's bags.
I imagined the stares at the other end. This is going through my head as I'm on the floor pulling things out and stuffing in my precious neck pillow. I would miss that pillow for the next five hours. Maybe forever. The pillow, in fact, is rather sturdy and it boosted my confidence that it would withstand the pressure of hundreds of pounds of luggage being thrown on top of it. I checked it and walked away. During the next hour I stood in a line with jostling Danes, vying for the best and quickest way though security. This consisted of two neat lines converging into a five foot wide mob of bodies with oversized carry-ons which evolved into a large area with two security screeners. At this time I discovered I was carrying an empty water bottle. I had been sucking down water for the past 20 hours. I really wanted to keep the bottle so I wouldn't have to break the bank (after my $36 purchase) and buy another water. As I got within ear shot of the agent I held up the empty bottle and timidly asked if empty was ok. (I had just passed a huge container labeled "bottles" and I was feeling pretty beaten up.) To my surprise, she answered ok and I smiled and told her that's the best news I'd had all morning. During that half hour I recounted the reason I was in that line and I remembered... my camera. It was still in the bottom of the checked bag. Oh well!
This was a camera that had been handed around the family, traveled around the world at least once, had been dropped from a moving car onto the icy road on a remote island and returned to its owner by people who recognized their neighbors in some of the images. It had appeared to have weathered all that yet a month later, when it was submerged in the Caribbean, it completely shut down. This camera had been repaired and seemed good as new and now was being placed at the bottom of a container with everyone else's luggage on top of it. I am quite sure I was the first to check in. Doomed, I thought, to be saturated with liquid soap. THAT was certainly worth more than my $36. I tried not to think about it anymore. It was out of my hands and there was a possibility that it would be fine. No one but me knew all this so I could pick it up at the other end and throw away the evidence.
Drum roll, please!
There it was, on the carousel, appearing to be intact, and under no duress. In fact, I snickered at the baggage drop agent as he explained he was sticking a tiny bar code label directly on the fabric in case the main tag came off. A Sticker on a canvas bag? No way! But there was the big tag and the little sticker, all looking like it had been carefully placed in its own private compartment.
I didn't remember it looking this good!