Friday, September 29, 2017

In praise of shouty women

The first time I visited the UK on my own was to visit my first girlfriend, Julie. I was 20 years old, and struggling through college on many different fronts: financial, social and academic.

After landing in Heathrow, a weaselly officious looking gentleman asked me the purpose of my visit. Confused and alarmed by the question, my response (a mumbled "Visit') apparently aroused more suspicion or maybe got misinterpreted as smartass sarcasm, because before I knew it I was in a small room being told the powers that the Prevention of Terrorism Act had over me. Terrified out of my wits, I had no idea how to even begin to argue my case.

Julie never claimed psychic powers, but she had a keen understanding of human behaviour, and her 177 IQ generally meant she figured stuff out before the rest of us even realised there was anything to be figured out. About the time I was being ushered into the small room, she was turning to her best friend out in Arrivals where they were waiting for a clueless young Irish man to emerge and saying "The poor fucker has got himself detained under the PTA".

A few minutes later she had somehow shouted and barged her way past security demanding to see me. God love the English, they have a sense of deference to their social superiors ingrained at an early age, and Julie was posh folk and had spent all her life ordering less posh folk around. As such I saw her before I heard her, as did the two officers in the small room. Suddenly they looked more terrified than me.

The door flung open and Julie made a gloriously shouty entrance.

"I KNEW IT!" she crowed triumphantly to the doubting Thomases in her wake.

"THIS IS WHAT A TERRORIST LOOKS LIKE TO YOU? REALLY? LOOK AT HIM. THE POOR FUCKER IS TERRIFIED OF HIS OWN SHADOW. IT'S A MIRACLE HE TIED HIS SHOELACES THIS MORNING, LET ALONE MANAGED TO BOARD AN AIRCRAFT. GREAT WORK SHERLOCKS"

Closing in on the officer in charge, the one who had pulled me aside, with her piercing blue eyes, her tirade continued.

"WE BOTH KNOW THIS IS NOT WHAT A TERRORIST LOOKS LIKE. WE BOTH KNOW THE REAL REASON HE'S IN HERE. YOU'RE A PATHETIC LITTLE MAN DOING A POINTLESS JOB BADLY, SO YOU GET OFF ON PULLING THE MOST PATHETIC LOOKING PERSON ON THE PLANE IN FOR A LITTLE GRATUITOUS BULLYING. WELL TODAY YOU PICKED THE WRONG GUY YOU DILDO BECAUSE THIS IS MY BOYFRIEND AND ONE OF TWO THINGS IS GOING TO HAPPEN HERE. EITHER YOU RELEASE HIM RIGHT NOW OR WE STAY HERE WITH ME SCREAMING AT YOU UNTIL MY LAWYERS WHO MY FRIEND IS RINGING RIGHT NOW GET HERE"

I was almost disappointed they went with the Release Right Now option, as I was totally enjoying the spectacle. I followed Julie and Sara out to the car meekly, without a word being said, unsure as to how much of the anger Julie felt was towards me.

In the car, she cracked a rare smile.

"Are you ok, Daraling?"

I muttered something about yes and sorry.

She laughed.

"Don't be sorry. That was fun. I thoroughly enjoyed that"

********
I flashed back to that day in Dublin airport yesterday as I was ushered to one side by US border security in the Preclearance area. I was slightly alarmed as it appeared to have been triggered by me telling them how much cash I was carrying, which was below what I knew to be the limit that requires declaration.

I was told to fill a form and wait to be called. I breathed a small sigh of relief when it was a female voice that called me, as one of the ways my own peculiar brand of sexism manifests itself is a lifelong belief that females are much easier to reason with or at least get on the good side of when dealing with authority.


The charming young lady asked me a number of detailed and pointed questions as to how I made my living and the exact details of my relationship with Unibet and the purpose of my visit. I did feel a sudden pang of alarm when she whipped on the rubber gloves, but it turned out she just wanted to count the cash I was carrying. She then explained that because Unibet was not an American company I didn't need the kind of clearance foreign athletes need to ply their trade in the US, but had they been I would. She asked if I had any American sponsor or had ever been approached by one. I could have said that was unlikely given the legal status of online poker in the Land of the Free, but that would have been the smartass answer, and smartass didn't feel like the way to go here, so I stuck to a simple negative.

As she escorted me out of the interrogation area she chatted amicably about what it's like to be a professional poker player. She seemed genuinely intrigued, and I was genuinely relieved to be on my way to Vegas without having to unleash my secret weapon (another shouty woman, this time in the form of my French wife who I had already primed to come back to the airport and start shouting and barging if necessary).

5 comments:


"IT'S A MIRACLE HE TIED HIS SHOELACES THIS MORNING, LET ALONE MANAGED TO BOARD AN AIRCRAFT."

Your girlfriend had you neatly summed up years before the rest of us had realised.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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