Friday, October 15, 2010

Tick Box

There is no journey without jolts. Moments when little details rise up, loom large and threaten.
On embarking, we are handed a card, and on the back of the card is a question:
Have you ever  been deported, deported under a departure order or denied entry?
There are boxes to tick. Yes and No.

Eight hours later I join the queues at immigration.  At the end of the queue, a young woman checks my papers and directs me forward.  I step onto a piece of floor marked STOP, behind a thick yellow line, and a man gestures right.  All the other foreigners have been channelled left.  I stand in front of a desk marked out for nationals.  The immigration official looks at my card and gestures to another officer.  Wordlessly, he walks me out across the lino towards an office door.  Just before the office door, he gestures left and I find myself at a desk marked CREW.  I put each finger on a fingerprint scanners and look at my own face on a screen as the digital camera takes a picture.

"Harder please," says the man, holding up his index fingers.
I press harder.
"Thank you," he says, and hands back my passport.
I am through.

Outside the airport hotel there is a massive cigarette vending machine. 
Next to it, a machine offering portable de-fibrillation. 

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