I was watching yet another one of those 'Border Patrol' type programmes on tv yesterday. New Zealand has produced such a show and so, too, has Australia, Britain, United States, and, I guess, lots more countries.
These shows are mainly filmed at airports with Customs people, or Immigration people, or Police people hovering throughout. Some poor traveller has been pulled aside because he looks shifty, he's sweating, he has too much cash on him, he doesn't know a thing about the country he's just landed in, or he's carrying one of the worst things imaginable: food!
I don't know how many times I've been called over to the side to have that ticklish 'wand' run up and down and over my body, with my arms outstretched, legs akimbo. The downside is that, darn-it, I'm not being filmed for a tv programme, the upside is that - ooh, look! - I am the centre of attention, and that is totally neat for an extrovert such as myself.
It's all because: (a) I fidget while I'm waiting for my plane, and (b) I only carry cabin baggage, ranging from 3kg (Europe for 6 weeks), to 7 kg (Las Vegas for 3 weeks - the glitter clothes, plus cosmetics 'upped' the kilograms).
I think I've mentioned this before, but old people do fidget. We check that we have our passport at least a dozen times, we sit down and get up from our seat often, and we go to the loo a lot. We fidget because, honestly, we're worried we'll miss the plane, get mugged, fall asleep, be approached by strangers, be stopped by Customs, or miss a travel connection. All this fidgeting shows up on tv monitors in some back room at airports.
I carry the bare minimum in luggage. I even wrote (and got paid for) a magazine article about travelling light. I don't have to hang around luggage carousels, and when I'm walking to a hotel or train I'm wearing a small back-pack no bigger than folk might carry on their way home from the supermarket. Once I was happily sitting on a plane waiting to take off from Los Angeles airport bound for New York, when all passengers were turfed off. Fifteen minutes later, I was travelling on another NY-bound plane whilst my original fellow travellers had to stay in LA overnight. I transferred easily because I only carried cabin baggage..
Of course, the opposite happens when I drive myself around New Zealand. Going to Whakatane last month, I was totally ashamed. The boot of my car ('trunk' for my US reader) was laden with so much stuff, you would have thought I was moving house. My little Mazda could barely make it up the Ngauranga Gorge, and that's only ten minutes from Miramar where I live.
Here's a plaque sunk into the pavement outside the Chinese Theatre/ Hollywood Walk of Fame commemorating 'Star Trek'. Wouldn't it be great to travel on the Enterprise? I'll bet Captain Kirk wouldn't take all that nonsense from a customs officer.