This was the time my flight was due to take off from Perth on Wednesday morning to arrive in Melbourne. Having planned an hour earlier to arrive at the airport I got there with 45 minutes to spare thanks to some crazy driving by my sister and crazy freeway traffic in general.
Or so I thought.
Trying to keep calm under the stressful situation of getting onboard on my flight (and recovering from my sister's lead foot), I played it cool and waltzed on over to the long line where people were having their baggage checked in.
Several minutes passed and as I looked around at the other folk entering the terminal I noticed that they all proceeded to these little touch screens.
Hmm, maybe they're just lost and need directions, I thought.
I progressed further in the line and saw a big red sign that read...
STEP #1 - Collect ticket
STEP #2 - Check baggage in
What kind of an idiot doesn't know the two basic steps to boarding a plane: grab your ticket, load your luggage, and get on the friggin plane.
The baggage line moves at a slow steady pace, but having arrived with 45 minutes under my belt I know I'm all good.
Waddling a little further I eventually get to the counter.
26 minutes to take off my mind notices... plenty of time.
I heave my light luggage bag onto the conveyor belt and force a smile.
"Ticket please?" the bloke asks placing one of his hands out on top of the counter.
"Uh, isn't that what you're meant to give me?" I respond.
"No, you should have got your ticket from the touch screen terminals there," he points in the direction of where all the smart people who can read signs are touching away at their screen and grabbing their ticket.
Eeek! I thought that was an info finding thing.
"Thanks," I said as I quickly grabbed my luggage and walked over to the new fangle dangle ticket touch screens.
It's okay, you've got plenty of time my mind coaches, trying it's best to calm my body.
TO START PLEASE TOUCH THE SCREEN
I touch it, but nothing happens.
I touch it again, but still nothing happens.
I try the other hand, and yet again... nothing happens.
Damn, maybe my hands have gone all clammy and cold? Just calm down, you've got 23 minutes... plenty of time says the strange, and now becoming a little annoying, coaching voice inside my head.
I need to use a warmer part of my body.
I try touching the screen with my elbow, but... nothing happens.
I touch my chest and face hoping to find a warm spot, but nothing immediately comes to mind.
What about your tongue? says the coach.
Come on! You've only got 20 minutes, you'd better hurry!
I slowly bend over and crouch down to the screen.
With my tongue I quickly prod the screen.
I receive a little jolt of static and quickly pull back.
PLEASE SELECT YOUR DESTINATION
Reads the screen.
Okay, be quick and hit Melbourne...
In one quick motion I bend down, stick my tongue out, get zapped, and hit "Melbourne" - if I had feathers I'd probably look like a chicken on a farm pecking away at the grass.
THANKYOU... PLEASE WAIT
I wonder why computers are always so nice? I think, rubbing my tongue.
As the computer whirrs away it asks me to select which flight to Melbourne I was taking - the early morning one, or the later in the afternoon one.
*Zzzzzt*... the early morning one.
THANKYOU... PLEASE WAIT
Aw, come on! I don't have all day... 17 minutes.
PLEASE ENTER YOUR NAME
The screen flashes a keyboard that has the tiniest keys I've ever seen.
Ok, give me a pointy tongue. Now go... the inner coach encourages.
*Zzzzt*... R... *Zzzzzt*... U... crap!... *Zzzzt*... [backspace]... *Zzzzt*... *Zzzzt*... GHY... CRAP!!! "Give me a pointy tongue," I said. "Sorry coach."... *Zzzzt* *Zzzt* *Zt* [backspace] [backspace] [backspace]... *Zzzzt*... Y... Yes!... *Zzzt*... A... Eww, gross, someone didn't wash their hands... *Zzzzt*... N...
By now my tongue was beginning to get a little swollen with all the static shots it was taking. I didn't want to drink anything cold less I drain the heat away from my tongue and need some other warm part of my body to touch the screen... and I really didn't want to use my bum as a pointer - well I've heard that your bum is the warmest part of your body, but maybe it's like that because we sit on it all day?!
I quickly zapped my surname into the terminal and began cleaning the screen after the computer displayed another...
THANKYOU... PLEASE WAIT
I then zapped confirmation of my seat and within a minute finally had my ticket.
"This is the first boarding call for people flying to Melbourne on flight QF481."
CRAP!!! I've only just got my ticket!!
I quickly jumped back into the now even longer baggage line.
COME ON! COME ON!
Every second felt like a minute. My palms began to sweat (oh, so now you're hot!) and I had to keep tapping my foot as an outlet for releasing all the nervous energy that was welling up inside.
10 minutes to go.
A separate line opened up for late passengers to the Melbourne line and I quickly scurried into the shorter line.
"Ticket please," asked the lady behind the counter.
I handed over my ticket and tried to feign a happy face. I didn't want to talk. I didn't want to say anything that would otherwise make her work slower in getting my luggage on board that plane.
I just clammed up and tried to smile.
"Thank you Ryan, your leaving from gate number 2."
Phew! The hardest part is now over!
I quickly made my way to the departure gate. First though, I had to go through the scanner.
Oh please please please don't let anything beep.
I nervously placed all my stuff into the open container and fed it to the guy standing near the xray machine. I started scratching my forearms and my head as I waited to go through the arches. I just wanted to be on the plane ALREADY!
COME ON!! yelled the coach.
As I walked through the scanner I held my breath and closed my eyes.
Phew, no beep.
I collected my things from the successfully scanned box and as I was about to make my way to the gate a security lady walked up to me.
"Excuse me sir, could you please step aside."
"Why? What for? I'm going to miss my flight."
"You've been randomly selected for a drug test."
"Do I look like I'm on drugs to you, lady?" I yelled.
Although, I suppose in the nervous state I was in I probably did.
"It will only take a moment of your time."
Oh please don't let it be a touch screen, was the only thing I was worried about. I didn't care if I had to get probed, just so long as I didn't have to fry my tongue on another touch screen.
And with that I was taken to a desk and asked a myriad of questions on whether I had taken any drugs within the last 7 days, whether I had ever taken drugs at all (etc etc)...
"Does Panadol count?"
What seemed like an eternity soon finished and I was able to quickly get to my departure gate with a minute to spare.
Whoever invented the last minute should've won the Nobel prize... because if it weren't for the last minute I think we'd all miss a lot of things.
I was now onboard and setting sail (probably the wrong word considering I was flying?) for Melbourne.
And you'll never guess what happened when I landed in Melbourne.
The Process. Your Mileage May Vary.
3 hours ago