The funny thing is I can pinpoint it almost. I was in the stanstead airport heading back to bremen. It was my second or third quick weekend trip on ryanair since i'd been back from america for christmas break. something about the break had disrupted my rhythm of life their so completely. I couldn't seem to stay put, london several times, amsterdam, switzerland, all in the month that i was back before i headed back to america for what was supposed to be 7 weeks in between semesters.
flying on ryanair can be disillusioning to the somewhat pampered clientale of the usa. when you're flying for dirt cheap i guess you shouldn't be surprised to be treated like dirt.
The thing is they only allow 10 kg carryon. anything more either checked or above gets charged extra 30 pounds, which is close to 50 dollars or so. that's a lot of money for a poor roamer such as myself with an art degree.
So I flew in no problem, and didn't expect any trouble on the way back, afterall, what could be worst than german airport security, right?
the security guard informed me i was 4 kilos over. No problem i thought, i pulled my suitcase to the side, put on my two pairs of pants, my other coats and took my books out and carried them in my arms. A few people looked at me and laughed as i was layering but i felt like i was in on the joke.
upon reentry i decided to go to a different security guard since the first one was a little snippity. the second security guard noticed the first had marked on my paper that my carryon was overweight and double checked my bag, which was now a kilo underweight.
"it's just for your own comfort" he explained politely and let me pass. As i made my way through the mostly empty security line the first security guard so me walking through with my bag and left his post and ran after me.
He was tall, overweight, red in the face with a walrus white mustache and a thick accent.
"dont you be slipping the micky on me!" he exclaimed in outrage. As though me walking through the security line was a personal attack.
"I went through my bag" i explained, "i passed."
he grabbed me by my arm and pulled me back.
"who? who let you through?" he demanded.
"sir..." i tried to intervene. the onslaught of his outrage was hitting me emotionally. despite my "spunk" or "sass" or whatever attributes anyone might give to me when all is said and done i am a nice good girl who was raised by parents that hardly ever yelled by teachers that were gentle and i dont get in trouble. old people dont yell at me, people in uniforms dont swear at me and grab me by the arm in a rage and drag me out of line.
He pulls me in front of the check in counter and demands that the workers have me check my now underweight luggage.
They look at each a little loss as to what to do.
"well, if her suitcase is the right weight she doesn't have to check it," says one of the girls heistantly.
"she just put more clothes on!" he exclaims, "she's trying to slip the micky on me!"
"um, let me ask my supervisor?" she says
A skinny slumped shouldered sandy haired man pops up uncomfortably. He doesn't look me in the eye as he says it might be better for me to just check my luggage.
"That's a lot of money for me," i explain. "i only flew here because it was so cheap, checking the luggage will cost as much as the whole trip!"
the security guard nods at the supervisor and stalks off in triumph.
I try to argue with the workers. I can see they agree with me.
"Well, your bag is a little big. it might not even get past security..."
I put my bag in the metal cage that checks for size. it barely fits, but it still fits.
"Well if you want to risk it but it might make you miss your flight...."
it became clear to me. there was no reason for me to have to check my bag. but none of the workers would stand up for me because they had to deal with the walrus mustached security guard everyday, whereas i was just one of millions of customers coming through. By the end none of them were making eye contact with me.
It may seem like an insignificant event blown up into full detail. But this is when things changed for me. I was completely helpless. someone bigger than me picked on me, and there were side characters that could have done something but they did nothing, and the bigger one won. I paid the fifty dollars to check my 9 kilo bag and felt this welling rage inside me at my complete inability to affect my fate.
As my dad might say, this is how the world is.