Drinking airport beer and eating oysters with Andrea en route to Toronto.
I’m still shuddering from the disconcerting experience of arriving in Newark airport, where as soon as you clear the glum Ellis Island-esque queue of Arrivals, you proceed to the ‘bag re-check area’.
This is an open part of the airport concourse where you hand your luggage (and in my case a very precious instrument) to a bunch of guys with no uniforms or name tags, just guys with bar code readers who step up and take the luggage from your willing hands, and who don’t say a word or make any eye contact at all.
It reminds me once again that when we’re in transit we invest an enormous amount of faith in complete strangers. In this instant, this split second, we decide to trust that the people who grab our luggage, without even grunting at us, will make sure that it actually gets on a plane with its nose pointing towards Canada.
I tip another oyster into my stale mouth and realise that I have nothing to show for this exchange. No receipt, no tag, nothing. For all I know, the enormous Fall of Saigon-scale pile of luggage could be halfway to Brooklyn in an unmarked van by now. I could be the latest victim of the Bar Code Scanner Gang. Four guys who found old bar code readers in a junkyard and had a bright idea.
Come to think of it, did I actually hear a ‘beep’ during that exchange? I don’t THINK so. Did I ACTUALLY see that familiar tremulous red line cross the barcode on my guitar? Nope.
I have a cold sweat that I’ll arrive at Toronto and some practical minded Canadian at the airport will look at me in the Baggage Reclaim area and say: ‘You did WHAT? Who WAS this person? You just GAVE your luggage to a guy with a BARCODE READER?’
And I will stand there, speechless and stupid, stupid, stupid.
(postscript – the luggage did turn up, of course. And yes, airport beer and oysters are expensive)