I was early getting to Dublin airport. After the Bag Drop, we strolled over to the Departure Gate and scanned our Boarding Passes, declined the offers of clear plastic bags for liquids and toothpaste and joined one of the funnels for Airport Security. That’s the fancy name for the process that scans your cabin luggage and the contents of your pockets and handbags.
“Please remove your jackets and outdoor clothing, and take a tray,” said one of the uniformed staff in a high pitched, strident voice. We were switched from the line we had chosen, and directed to a different one. “Belts,” said the man, “No, keep your shoes on. Anything in your pockets? Move along please.”
Tensions were rising, due to the hectoring tone of the security staff and being ordered about. Placing my wheelie on the conveyor, I emptied all my pockets, pulled off my belt, added my watch with its metal strap, and topped it all with my lightweight outdoor jacket.
Trusting the system, I turned away from the tray containing my valuables and my passport, and walked through the body scanner. As I collected my tray on the other side, I was hurried along. “Take your things and pass the tray back for the next passenger to use,” instructed the man in uniform. I obeyed.
Once I was re-assembled, we went looking for the Gate indicator. Get it wrong and you could have a long walk back. Low numbers went one way, high numbers went the other way. The indicator stated that our gate would be displayed at 18:40. I checked the time on my wrist. No watch.
Turning back to the security channel I thought we had just come through, I searched the floor and told a man in uniform that I had lost my watch. A hunt began, and three watches were found, none of them mine. They sent for the duty policeman.
A large man in a high-vis jacket, he ambled up and stood about importantly while everyone else scurried about looking, re-scanning my possessions, peering under the conveyors, asking one another, scribbling my details on a large white form. Considering the possibility that I was in the wrong place, I sent my wife to make enquiries at the distant set of security channels, where they soon located my missing timepiece.
During the whole episode, I reflected that none of that would have happened if I had stayed alert, in control, and not in ‘obedient’ mode. Doing as I was told, I dumped all my stuff in a tray, went through to the other side, expecting a seamless reunion with my possessions. But I allowed myself to be hurried along. Marching to the beat of another man’s drum, I failed to complete my own tasks.
That’s how serious mistakes can be made.