• Friday, March 01, 2024
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Airport blues: Belly buttons and recalcitrant fake millionaires

Airport blues: Belly buttons and recalcitrant fake millionaires

It was low-key, but I was standing right behind them, so his voice carried through. She seemed unfazed by his intrusion. She probably enjoyed it. But there were questions in my estimation that you don’t ask a stranger. How old are you? Stupid Question. Where would you be staying in Abuja? Huh? I tried to keep my face as straight as a plank. Then he says to her, “Where you have chosen to stay is too far from the city centre.

You might want to re- consider.” I wondered how this is a skin off his nose as I lingered behind them on the queue. She responds without looking at him..” That’s where my friend stays, although I have another friend who stays in another part of town.” He lowers his voice. “You can come and stay with me, you know. I live in a really good part of town.” Bingo!

The reason for this conversation in the first place. He was definitely grooming the lady. All this conversation was going somewhere. Now, see where we are. He is such a smooth operator, this guy. All this questioning was headed only one way – to her belly button and anything else that comes along, above and below. Itsy bits that can be gleaned from the belly button prism.

All this questioning was headed only one way – to her belly button and anything else that comes along, above and below.

Her T-shirt was dirty white. A pair of jeans barely grazed her lower waistline. Her belly button was fully on display, the prize of the day. That belly button, other than her near vulnerability, is what attracted Gizmo. From just looking at him, he would be about 56/57 years of age, the young lady barely 25. Her entire midriff invited us to the party, and she was none the wiser, an innocent. Ms. Belly Button pouted her lips and returned to the conversation. “I would think about it,” she said, a glint in her eye. What would Gizmo be doing with Ms. Belly Button, I wonder? Your guess is as good as mine.

One thing I can say for Gizmo is that he has the gift of the garb, all charming, all willing to carry his daughter’s bag for a little more than the belly button. Ms. Button, on the other hand, is oblivious to the plan, or was it the plan all along? To stir the hornet’s nest, catch anyone unable to contain themselves.

Before long, a stern-looking airline official confronts Gizmo. “Your ID card, sir,” he demands. “And say something!” She then gives him a full-lip perusal. “Sorry, sir, but the names on your ID don’t match the names on your ticket.” Ms. Belly Button shifts her weight to her left leg, wearing a rather disinterested look. Gizmo, on the other hand, feels disgraced, somewhat unraveled. He stutters, “I explained this to your superior officers before I got here!” Slowly his voice rises in anger. His pants have been dropped, literally, by this wiry lady, just slightly older than his object of interest, Ms. Belly Button, who by the way is now acting like she’s never seen him before.

The young airport official, at the mention of her superior officer, informs Gizmo that she is her airline’s Chief Security Officer. In other words, in matters like this, no one outranks her. I smile knowingly and give her my full eye contact as I make my way through the boarding gate. She understands the look and nods politely. This one isn’t getting past me. Ms. Belly Button slides past me without Gizmo. He’s lost the game. She “belly buttons” her way onboard to catch another prey.

I really don’t know what happened to Gizmo, but I was glad for that CSO. She’s one heck of a lady, able to stand up to a man who could well have been a terrorist. That’s how it ought to be. These days in our climes, it’s not about professionalism and integrity; it’s about how much money you can use to kill a story. And until that’s no longer the norm, we’re all in for a long, drawn-out, unfortunate state of affairs.

This unfortunate state of things permeates across all sectors. But today, we focus on our airports, where all manner of seemingly insane events occur daily. These places crawl with individuals of various backgrounds and intentions. In the past, air travel was primarily reserved for fairly respectable individuals and those who could afford it. It was a quasi-formal space frequented by our “best and brightest,” known for their good taste and decorum. Today, however, it seems anything goes: pantless girls, “Yahoo boys” (internet fraudsters), people in pajamas, groups openly objectifying women, and 419 con artists. We see scenarios akin to movies, with barely pubescent girls and elderly men cavorting with young women, their arms adorned with bubble gum dispensers.

So, on another day, I’m making my way from Lagos to Abuja. At the second line of airport security, we all come to a halt. It’s the usual routine: shoes off, computers out, and boxes fed through the security belt. This is where non-compliant liquids meet their demise. Two otherwise decent-looking men, however, insist on bringing a can of deodorant past security.

The security personnel explain that the can exceeds the 100 ml limit and therefore cannot be carried on. They calmly explain that it could pose a security risk. The burlier man starts arguing, shouting that the can is almost empty and he should be allowed to keep it. It’s a nonsensical argument – aerosol cans are potential security threats due to their pressurised contents.

Despite being cleared to proceed, I can’t help but turn around. “Why don’t you just let it go?” I ask the arguing men. “These security personnel are just doing their job.” The pair mumble something in response, and I leave, having had enough of their pointless argument.

This scene, straight out of another movie, played out in the business class cabin of the aeroplane I was travelling in. The two men who had been arguing at a check-in counter at a Lagos airport over a 5,000 naira deodorant can were now sitting confidently in the same cabin, on their way to Abuja.

I need some air. No, I cannot do it. Please do the maths!