Photo: Yushimoto at Flickr
I hate airports. I don't mind flying but the whole getting to the airport, going through security and then getting onto the plane gives me the 'willy's'. Airports seem to be a place where all my silly fears and insecurities collide and expand making me feel awful. Firstly, I hate being late. The thought of missing a plane or being called over the loudspeaker instantly sends butterflies to my stomach. I have been known to arrive at airports hours too early, rather than risk having to rush at the last minute.*
Secondly, I like to be in control. The whole handing over your passport, luggage, "self" to an airline and expect them to get you to the right place at the (a-hem) right time, with everything left the same way as you packed it, is a leap of faith that makes me feel uneasy.
Photo: Stephen Wetherden at Flickr
Thirdly, I have no trust in the security people. I don't mean in terms of keeping the "nasties" off the plane. Post September-11 'Airport Security' has become somewhat of a growth market for poorly-educated, presumably not very bright men and women. And these people have p-o-w-e-r. They can take your stuff, they can ask you to empty the contents of your carry-on for the world to see. They can ask you to take off your clothes**. In the States they take your fingerprints and photograph as if you are a criminal. And there is nothing you can do - because if you question it, their response could quite likely be to take away your ticket and stop you from flying.
Lastly, I think they are some of the loneliest places in the world. So many good-byes, so many long empty corridors, so many hours to wander around waiting for your connection. Especially when you have a layover when its 3am local time and the corridors are empty, the shops shut and just a sole cleaning man keeping the departure gates company. Once I've got over the anxiety of actually getting to the airport I'm always left with an overwhelming sense of sadness about the place. So cold and, well, lonely.
Thankfully, I have no such problems with planes and once I'm on the plane I usually settle down and start getting excited about where I'm going to and the movies and my book.
So good-bye Botswana. Hello Berlin.
* I'm slightly worried about today in this regard as my lovely housemate who is taking me to the airport has said that it doesn't really matter when you arrive in Gabs, she once arrived for an international flight 5 minutes before it was due to leave and they let her on.
** I was once flagged as a 'suspicious person' on a trip (I flew to the states from London for 5 days with visas for Russia, Mongolia and China). Every flight I took I was "randomly selected" by airport security for additional security searches. After the third time the phrase "randomly selected" didn't mean very much.