Signs of our times
Two Japanese chaps are seated side-by-side at Singapore Changi with signs around their necks. They are proper signs, on strings, and don’t appear to be brand-new. The lettering is clear and polite. Would passers-by wake them if they hear a certain flight number to Tokyo being called. It looks as if there are layers of partially erased flight numbers below the most recent. There is a “please look after” Paddington Bear aspect to it all and clearly it must work. I hang around hoping I hear their flight announced but mine is earlier. I feel sure they were rescued in time.
People in airports generally are kind, in my experience, maybe to do with the bonded sharing of all that horror: jangly colours, rotating boards, acres of garish carpets and those relentless spruikers spritzing you with perfume in the duty-free emporiums. You would need to be a nasty soul to leave a fellow traveller stranded when all you had to do was gently prod them awake.
I’ve had a few airport moments recently, such as a toenail injury, courtesy of a half-asleep pedicurist, and most recently, the apparent disappearance of my flight. It was delayed by five hours, the departure board was never updated and so the details just whooshed off, to be replaced by later flights that were not just operated by more efficient airlines, but bound for more exotic places than my own predictable destination. I am not even sure I could find Cape Verde on a map, but suddenly I wanted to go there. The flight was boarding and everyone seemed ridiculously merry. I was very envious indeed.
I am intrigued by the IATA three-letter codes for air- ports, a few of which have become more amusing, thanks to the proliferation of texting (sorry, SMS) abbreviations. For example, OMG is Omega in Namibia; DOH is Doha, capital of Qatar; LOL is Lovelock City, Nevada; and BTW is Batu Llicin in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Iowa’s Sioux City is SUX, but at least I don’t think there is a FFS. Then there are the titter-worthy ones such as BOG for Bogota, Colombia, and SIN for Singapore, but those are a bit old hat.
While I am standing around, worrying about the Japanese men sleeping, I notice their briefcases in full sight, just there for the taking. Robbery is rare in Japan but not at this destination. Now what? Should I push the bags out of sight but risk looking like a thief? I decide to do nothing, reminded as I am by the arrival of my Japanese daughter-in-law’s aunty at Sydney airport last year. She left her purse, containing all her crisp new Australian currency, in the toilet near the baggage claim area and didn’t notice until she was through the exit. So off we went to find Lost Property. Aunty was convinced it would be safely there; we other two were not.
It did turn up, however, in the hands of a border security officer. Once she had stopped returning Aunty’s deep bows and could straighten her spine, she said the purse had been screened, but not detonated.
Oh, I see, no one makes off with other people’s belongings at airports in case there is a device inside that has somehow escaped the attention of who knows how many security checks and screening cubicles. So that is a bonus.
And, what’s more, I am making myself a sign.