The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Safe and Sorry

An elderly woman in a headscarf lined up the start of YMCA, arms outstretched, but there was no one else to finish the chorus.  Preparing for the 2 am flight from Berlin to Istanbul, finding dancing partners could be a challenge. Instead, she became slightly less enthusiastic about the height of her reach and waited to be wanded by security. Afterwards, deigned to be no threat, she stepped to retrieve her belongings that rolled by in grey crates. Nearly every headscarved mother and grandmother seemed to be stopped  Always the wand made whizzing sounds of triumph when going over their heads–perhaps many fasteners and pins were needed to keep their hair up. The guard gave them quick head massages and moved them along.

A man who looked like the actor who played Gandhi, but without his makeup, collected a blue carry-on bag that read “AIDAS” with a trademarked stripe. He replaced his snappy golf cap and cardigan and tsk-tsked at the halting of the women.  The passport control line was forming just inside, though no one was in the booth, so from his position in line the man could continue to oversee the checkpoint.

A mother handed the guard her horizontally sleeping toddler bundled in a snowsuit–only a bit brisk in Berlin, but there was a false rumor of snow in Turkey. The female guard took the child, placed it carefully on the stainless steel counter just past the conveyor belt, straightening the material around his head to make a pillow, and began her check at the woman’s ankles. The guard looked embarrassed, her Germanness shining through. The mother exhaled audibly as her rear got checked, as the guard touched the fasteners that closed the front of her pants. The child rested peacefully, only faintly disturbed when his mother seized him and joined the unmoving line for passport control.

A man was also stopped wearing acid-washed jeans with decorative zippers that zigged his thigh, then zagged across his knee and down his ankle. He gave the metal detector a look of meek disbelief when it beeped. In those jeans, the expression was a miracle of human incredulity. He had, after all, removed his belt and its excessive buckle. He raised his arms as well in his wait. The source was evident to the guard and to the golf cap AIDAS man who–happily clicking his tongue to find any entertainment at this hour–rocked up on his feet and wiped his tired eyes.

-Berlin, Germany.

One comment on “Safe and Sorry

  1. Pingback: Relieved | The Nice Thing About Strangers

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