‘Wale’ of a story in the making

I was born with a great imagination, and as I was flying over the North Atlantic one week ago on my way to Britain, I thought my mind’s eye had a pretty good idea what this trip would be like.
Suffice to say, I had no clue. This experience has been more than anything I possibly could have dreamed for myself.
I don’t even know where to begin. My editor would say to start with the most important thing, but even that advice is difficult just now because there are so many stories trying to jump through my fingertips to the keyboard.
The eight-hour flight to Europe was long and I didn’t sleep a wink. How could I? I was alight with anticipation, not to mention I could not take my eyes off the near full moon that shone in the night sky and through my airplane window for the entire journey.
We reached the north coast of Ireland and England just before dawn and at 39,000 feet in clear skies, it was a sight to behold as the cities below were lit up in the colour of gold.
When I landed in Amsterdam for a 10-hour layover, I felt like I could do anything. The world was my oyster.
But even oysters wind up in nets.
The time and space continuum froze for me when six Dutch security guards gathered to ponder an anomaly in my carry-on luggage as it passed through the X-ray machine at the boarding gate for the flight to Wales.
I felt like a foreigner in a foreign country. Wait a minute—I was.
Another guard appeared and took my passport from my trembling fingers, and pulled out his mobile phone. All I heard was my birth name and “Cardiff, Wales” tossed about in another language.
I was convinced I was a goner. My identity would be red-flagged at every airport on every continent. They made movies called “Missing” and “Vanished” about these kinds of things.
I looked up and there were the wide-eyed faces of all my co-passengers who were sitting pretty and in the clear and staring at my folly.
Security was backed up for 15 minutes as I waited for “special ops” to arrive. I was sweating like Arnold Schwarzenegger when his wife found out about the housekeeper, but I also was as clueless as Alicia Silverstone about what possibly could be in my possession to cause such an international incident.
Eventually, a guy who looked like Alan Rickman (the actor who played the bad guy in “Die Hard”) arrived wearing a flak jacket. He walked over to me after looking at the X-ray image and promptly said, “Tell me everything that is in your bag—exactly.”
My mind went blank and all that spilled out of my mouth was, “Well, I ate all the chocolate.”
It was hopeless. My nerves shot, I couldn’t remember but four of the some 25 things I had packed in that bag.
“Mr. Flak Jacket,” with a stern, heavy accent and with big blue vein throbbing in his forehead, held up his hand and said, “I will get your bag and we will open it together.”
I nearly had everything pulled out of the bag onto the table, naming off each item as I went as eight security guards stood around the contents. Suddenly, one of them pointed to the earplugs for my iPhone and a metal belt clip on the “travel approved” silk zip bag that had contained my passport.
“Mr. Flak Jacket” nodded and left, and I was free to go.
If it weren’t for the streak of white hair that suddenly had appeared on my head, there would have been no evidence of the incident—unless, of course, we counted the huddle of passengers who all had moved to the other side of the room when I stepped through security to sit down amongst my fellow fliers.
The rest of the trip was “crackin,” but that’s another story—or two.

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