Frankfurt airport, security. A stern fiftysomething woman with hair dyed raven black pulls my rucksack off the conveyor belt and nods in my direction.
“Yours?” her frown asks. I step forward sheepishly.
“Yes, it is my bag.” ‘Do I have anything in there? No, I am sure I have nothing problematic. I don’t carry weed in my rucksack anyway. No, I am safe.’
“English oder Deutsch?”
“English, please.” ‘Please??! What are you, ordering a burger?!!’
“Please open the bag for me.” I unzip all the compartments a bit too eagerly.
I stand wooden as the Lady Officer in white shirt and dark blue waistcoat with yellow “Fraport” on her left breast rummages through my stuff, takes a pair of socks (no idea, absolutely no idea) out with her gloved left hand, observes for a second before putting them back. Ultimately she finds what she’s looking for and gets hold of my toiletries bag. Opens slowly and starts removing its insides.
“Sir, you know you must put all liquids and gels in a transparent bag? Is this your first time traveling by plane?”
“Of course not… I am sorry, I completely forgot…” I start blushing as if caught shoplifting chewing gum from Hekto’s kiosk, getting increasingly furious with myself. ‘Why am I so nervous? Why am I giving this woman such power? I’ve done nothing wrong! Fuck transparent bags!’
Just as I am about to protest her rudeness, the raven-haired guardian of Fraport’s law and order notices something in my bag, looks up with a smile and asks in rusty Croatian.
“Odakle ste?” (Where are you from?)
“Iz Bosne.” (From Bosnia.) Baffled. Glad she is smiling though.
“I can’t believe they still sell this stuff.” She is holding a bottle of “Brion” aftershave, genuinely hardcore paint remover, clearly over the 100ml allowed size.
“My father used this. He was Croatian.”
“Mine too. My mother still buys it for me every time I visit, although she knows I don’t use aftershave.”
“There is no scent in it other than alcohol. I can’t believe they liked it.” she laughs.
“I know, right?” I see my late father standing in front of the bathroom mirror, shaven, slapping himself with “Brion”, exhaling and puffing loudly under its bite.
“Can I open it?”
“Sure, go ahead.”
She untwists the cap, takes a whiff cautiously. Her eyes glisten.
“Yes, that is it.”
Puts the cap back on. Pauses looking at the bottle in her gloved hands.
“You are aware I will have to confiscate this as it exceeds the 100ml limit?” she asks without looking up.
“Sure, I understand.” I start putting my stuff back in the rucksack.
“I have another bottle in the bag. Mother always buys two for some reason.”