Friday, March 23, 2007

Sticker story

As I was waiting for my turn in the queue for check in at Mumbai airport 's domestic terminal, I heard some commotion at the adjacent counter. A gentleman in his early sixties, wearing black trousers and a pin stripe white shirt, was arguing with the attendant at the counter. He had handed over his ticket to the counter girl and had placed his bag on the weigh-in belt. The attendant inspected the bag carefully, but not finding the security sticker, returned the same to him and asked him to get it scanned through x-ray machine. While most airlines apply a security sticker on the passengers' bags after passing them through the x-ray scanners, indicating that the material has been scanned and nothing objectionable has been found, some airlines also wrap the bag with a plastic strip after the scanning and fasten the strip mechanically. The gentleman told the counter staff that he had got the bag scanned through the x-ray machine and the sticker was duly placed on it. He himself started looking frantically for the sticker on the bag by turning it on all its sides. As he bent down to look for the sticker, I noticed the same stuck on his trousers between his legs. The white and blue security sticker with the airline's logo stood out prominently on his black trousers. I drew his attention towards the sticker. He quickly pulled it away and stuck it back sheepishly on the bag and again offered the bag to the attendant. The bag was accepted for check in. While i could notice the embarrassment writ large on the face of the gentleman, there was certainly a bit of entertainment around the counters at his cost.

It was not difficult for me to imagine that how the sticker must have travelled from the suitcase to his pants, given the fact that the stickers are applied in haste, leaving their ends sticking out. The glue on one of the ends of sticker must have come in contact with his trousers when he was walking with his bag towards the counter and the sticker decided to transfer its location from the bag to the gentleman's trousers. This reminds me having seen a small insect, which has sticky substance on both its ends and moves ahead by sticking one end on the surface at a time, making a summersault, every time it moves ahead. The sticker also must have done some such acrobatics or aerobatics.

The whole episode left me wondering about the sanctity of the poor sticker, which was so important an item, that wherever it was found stuck, the material was considered safe and secure, at least in the airport security parlance.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great reading and observation, dear Balvinder – the sticker matters!

Charan Singh

Anonymous said...

Hi ! Nicely written and made for amusing reading

Tuli Roy

Anonymous said...

Sir,

This incident leaves me worried about our famed Air Security. I really wish the Airline staff should have got another security check done of the bag in question.

I thank you for this enlightening piece of information.



-Sumit

Anonymous said...

Sir,
The airline staff should have got the baggage rescanned. The staff should have gone himself to the X ray machine with the suitcase as a good gesture and also for the safety of passangers and his owm staff. Some how, we are casual and don'e belive in clearing the doubts on the spot itself.
Regards,

Chopra.

roop said...

i liked the last line ... the note that the post ended at :) .... as to how important a sticker is ...

Balvinder Singh said...

Roop, nice to see you here, heard lots of praises from Manpreet and rightly so. Went through some of your blog posts. Blogrolling you. Remain in touch.