Roland Turner

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Christina's Birthday, Laval, Quebec, Canada

Naturally, on the last day of my Montreal vaction, I had to squeeze in just one more gathering. Christina was celebrating her birthday, her place is closer to the airport than downtown Montreal is anyway and there were a few hours between the start of the BBQ and the departure of my flight...

Sadly, after three weeks, my camera was full, so I only managed to photograph a few people before I left.

I think that the world will be a safer place if I do not share the joke here. :-)

There is a postscript to all of this. I did manage to get to the airport in plenty of time for my flight, but after checking in, stayed in the main hall near the postbox to write and send about 20 postcards. This took me right up until boarding time for my flight; naturally I had forgotten that (a) it was neccessary to get through security to get to my flight and (b) the gate was a couple of hundred meters away. Anyway, I ran for the gate, fumed in the security queue for three or four minutes, politely waited for the guy to unpack my carry-on to examine the camera and associated cables, batteries, mini-tripod, etc., repacked it, and then sprinted to the gate. There was still a queue with about ten people it in boarding, I hadn't missed the plane!

Well, it wasn't quite that simple. My preferred flavour of mouthwash (eucalyptus) does not appear to be available in Berlin. Knowing this, and that it is available in Montreal, I purchased two one-litre bottles of it while I was in Montreal. Apparently under an x-ray scanner this stuff looks the same as plastic explosive. This, combined with the battery charger and its plugpack (with a cable snaking across my suitcase) was enough for airport security to seperate my suitcase. They had been paging me for 45 minutes, but of course, being in the main hall, I hadn't heard them, so when I did finally reach the boarding counter, I was asked to stand to one side. After a few minutes, someone I took to be a baggage handler came for my key, then the staff at the counter asked me to talk to their customer service manager on the phone, he wanted to verify my willingness to co-operate and to apologise for any inconvenience. By this time, all of the other passengers had already boarded, This was not a regional jet, it was a jumbo with more than 300 people onboard. I was starting to get a little concerned.

A few minutes later, some sort of police officer turns about and he has a discussion with the woman at the boarding counter. I can't follow much of it, but it ends with her asking a question ending in 'cinq minutes?' and him shrugging. This does not seem good. He escorts me to his vehicle, turns on the flashing light and moves across the airport at speed to a place with about a dozen security, police and other people standing around. One of them hands me my key and explains that the scanner has picked up something that might be explosive, but might not. I notice that this room contains a scanner with a short conveyor at each end, my suitcase, one chair and nothing else. I open the case, undo several layers of careful packing, show them the mouthwash, explain what the battery charger is, they ask me to repack quickly. I do. I'm taken back to the plane, the woman from the boarding counter is now standing in the jetway (is that what it's called?) at the door to the plane, hands me my boarding card, I walk in, sit down and 3-4 minutes later the plane pushes back and starts to taxi.

So, I did end up almost missing my flight, but not for the reason that anyone had assumed. The rest of the flight was rather boring by comparison.