Part One: The Check-In Desk.
There was no need to check in, having done it online. All that was needed was to drop off one bag. Just one solitary bag. Not my other bag, which would remain in the cabin with me. I can afford to lose clothes, when the airline screws up, as they so often do. But the laptop, tablet, bluetooth keyboard, electric razor, presents for the children of friends, and all those many cables to connect this-and-that would be far too difficult, too painfully time-consuming to replace. They must come with me. No matter what.
“9.1 kilos. Too heavy.”
“How much should it be,” I said, knowing the answer already.
“You want me to repack one bag into the other?”
I look flustered, and ask if I can go away and do it somewhere else. She nods again. So I go around the corner, and the shuffle begins.
Remove laptop bag from carry-on bag. Unzip it, and place alongside. USB cable from laptop bag into top right shirt pocket. iPhone charger cable from laptop bag to top left shirt pocket. iPhone earbuds from laptop bag to ears. Android mobile phone to be used with an overseas SIM to jacket right pocket. Spectacles case from laptop bag to trouser back pocket. Malaysian notes and coins from laptop bag to security wallet hanging from belt. Australian notes and coins from laptop bag to security wallet hanging from belt. Tablet from laptop bag to left trouser pocket (the pocket is deep, and the tablet will just fit). Macbook power cable from laptop bag to jacket right pocket. Pens from laptop bag to shirt left pocket. Universal socket adaptor from laptop bag to right jacket pocket. Sunglasses from laptop bag to top right pocket. Sunhat from carry-on bag to head. That should do it.
I lift the laptop bag and realize the strap is quite heavy. I remove the strap from the laptop bag and place it in the case to be checked-in. It is not like I will be walking far with my laptop bag.
Returning to the desk, I enquire if my two bags – I leave the laptop bag out of the case, in the hope it will increase sympathy – are now light enough.
“7 kilos exactly?”
It was a good job I removed that strap from the laptop bag. It would have been heavy enough to make a difference.
Part Two: Security
My jacket is too warm. It needs to come off first. I hang it over the handle to my wheelie case. Then the shuffle can begin again, in preparation for the airport security checks and the mandatory displacement of objects that is associated with them everywhere.
USB cable from top right shirt pocket to laptop bag. iPhone charger cable from top left shirt pocket to laptop bag. iPhone earbuds from ears to laptop bag. Android mobile phone for the overseas SIM to laptop bag. Spectacles case from trouser back pocket to laptop bag. Macbook power cable from jacket right pocket to laptop bag. Pens from shirt left pocket to laptop bag. Universal socket from right jacket pocket to laptop bag. Sunglasses from top right pocket to laptop bag. Sunhat from head to laptop bag. Now I am ready to queue for the compulsory security check.
Laptop bag to tray for the security scanner. Security wallet from belt to tray. Belt from trousers to tray. Tablet from left trouser pocket to tray. Loose change from trouser pocket to laptop bag. Watch from wrist to laptop bag. Wallet from trouser pocket to laptop bag. Toiletries from laptop bag to tray. Laptop from laptop bag to tray. Me from normal to standing with arms aloft in a body scanner. Handkerchief from trouser pocket to the right hand of the security man and then back again. Shoes from feet to security man’s tray. Shoes from security man’s tray back to my feet.
And after all that I am deemed fit to fly. I am no smarter, no lighter, slightly older, and carrying everything I intended to bring with me, one way or another. And when I return, I will do the airport shuffle again.