Ok. So Christmas coming up and some of you lucky people are going home to sweet T&T to eat pastelle, drink sorrel, ginger beer, and ponche de crème, and bruck out to some vintage Parang (Don’t forget to take a bite and a sip for me, over here in the cold; oh and take a wine for me too).
Now, before you begin your celebration, there is one major irritation you have to go through before you return to our twin-island paradise. Airport Security. This process can be slow and painful, especially when you running late because you’ve been cramming a few more Christmas items into your carry-on in duty free.
I’ve heard that the only sure-fire way you can make this security process go easier, is to walk into the security area with your arms swinging, with nothing on but your drawers and the rubber ding ding (slippers for those of you who don’t know) you brought back on your last trip. Of course if you do this, I will take no responsibility if you end up spending the rest of the holiday season in a mental asylum.
On a serious note though, there are a few things that can help you avoid the extra scrutiny or an unpleasant experience when you walk through those security doors.
Avoid looking like a drug lord
Everyone knows that the main focus in the news, when it comes to airport security, is terrorism, but that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten about the drug smugglers. So if you know you have that ‘look’, and everywhere you go, someone comes and whispers in your ear, “You have weed?”… then maybe wearing your favourite Rasta belt or hat is not a brilliant idea.
Don’t trip the metal detectors
If you like this big buckle style and can’t do without wearing one on the plane, don’t forget to take of your belt and put it into the scanner. Blinged out jewellery also isn’t a good idea. That, and the Trini ‘shilling’ you keep in your pocket for good luck, and periods of homesickness.
Ladies, if you have underwire bras, apparently some of them set off the metal detectors, so you should avoid wearing them when travelling – especially if you’re leaving from the States and want to avoid being molested by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel. If you decide to stick it to the TSA, you could follow in the footsteps of John Tyner and tell them you will have the security personnel arrested if they touch your private areas, but you might not end up making it home on that flight.
Don’t carry ting for every and anybody
If any of your friends have asked you to carry anything home for them, make sure to always check whatever package it is before you agree to take it. If they try to rush the package to you by the gate when you’re just about to go through security, don’t feel bad to tell them hard luck either.
If you have family who works in Customs, you’ve probably heard the very practical and seemingly pessimistic advice – don’t carry anything you haven’t checked thoroughly for yourself, or as a matter of fact… don’t carry anything for anybody, not even your best friend. Customs people will tell you that sometimes, when innocent people get held for transporting illegal goods, it was someone ‘close’ who gave it to them. Why? Easy. When you don’t expect someone you trust to do something like that, you won’t show signs of nervousness. However, if a doggie smells you, it’s all over. I’m not saying to watch everyone who asks you to carry goods home with an evil eye. I’m just saying, know what you’re carrying.
Doh waste yuh gift paper
If you have any fragile or expensive gifts you don’t want to put into your checked luggage, make sure not to wrap them in your best gift paper before you get to the airport, because you know those security people will take pleasure in ripping through the paper if they can’t ‘verify’ the contents in the x-ray – even though they probably know what the package is, what colour it is, how much you paid for it, and what store you bought it in, long before you even pack your suitcase.
Avoid over-the-top romantic gestures
This one might be a bit far out, but for you super romantics out there who might be thinking of surprising the love of your life with some grand gesture, like jumping over the gates like you see in the movies to tell them you love them… You need to take that plan back to the drawing board, because you won’t be the first to try this, and you probably won’t get off as lightly as Haisong Jiang did earlier this year with just a $500 fine and community service. To prevent it from happening again, US lawmakers have introduced a $10,000 fine. So this Christmas season, I’m sure the TSA will be on the lookout for more love-struck smarty-pants, itching to try another stunt like that (Trinis doh do dem ting, right? Just checking).
Remember your journey isn’t over until you return ‘home’ (or to your place of residence, whichever you want to call it). So when you land back in the people place, try not to screw your pan (face) at the immigration officer too much, even though you might be vex that you had to leave so soon. The immigration officer already assumes you don’t like them, and that you’re not there legally, so don’t give them a reason to mess with you and ask you ah set ah questions. That goes for all of you who flyin’ out of Trini too.
Oh, and please don’t pretend to forget that you can’t bring meat back to the people country (even cooked; they don’t like it when we tell them they doh know how to make it properly.) So don’t pack enough leftovers from Christmas lunch to last you a week, because your pastelle, macaroni pie, turkey, ham and callaloo will all go to waste when you get to Customs… unless, of course, you plan on telling them you will eat it right dey!