On Tuesday afternoon I was at Lanseria airport on time. Unlike a few days earlier when I arrived sleep deprived at Cape Town International airport at 5:20 am for a 5:50 am flight to Jozie following a hell run at work the previous weeks, begging to board with a huge painting that I balanced on my head horizontally, scaring all and sundry out of the way from the benefits of being an African woman after a ground staff member assisted me in this manner as I tried to drag it while running like a crazy white woman back and forth across the check-in hall for the various processes and security checks required to travel with an uncomfortably large item.
My partner who had parked illegally in the drop-off zone and abandoned his vehicle to also assist was looking on stunned from the counter where he was paying for the additional freight. (It cost only R250 for the accompaniment in comparison with the over R1000 to have it road freighted across the country overnight in a cheap and nasty big load truck that chucks in anything from every town en-route.)
Apart from the youngests’ small red backpack that was my hand luggage to avoid additional luggage charges on the affordable national taxi airline, I was carrying a giant size woven basket which I referred to as my ‘handbag’, bulked with shoes and other superfluous shit needed at my age for re-visiting my hometown, (where two of my children relocated to earlier this year), and where no doubt everybody would be well preserved, wealthy and super stylish.
Squashed into the basket was a green Agrimark plastic bag with precious jewel coloured artist oil paints and a few brushes for in-case the wet painting that was carefully wrapped in layers of brown paper and bubble-wrap needed touching up on arrival.
This was unnecessary but afforded me an opportunity for restful hobby-ing while spending time with the middle child who was preparing for an exam and loves quiet creative company as inspiration, (in-between wild partying with old friends, accompanied by the eldest. My life is perfectly balanced).
Anyway, so at Lanseria on time, I’m stopped at the security scan gates due to a suspected ‘torch’ in my hand luggage and required to expose the content of the ‘handbag’ right there in public. The can of ‘No Gunky Feeling Light Hair Wax Spray’ was found to be safe but the green Agrimark bag was suspicious; carefully opened with extended arms and animated frowned concern and additional security personnel were summoned to help solve the riddle of the problematic content.
“What is this?”. “It is paint”, I replied to the ringmasters. “Paint is not allowed”. “Then I suppose make-up is also not allowed?”, unzipping my small make-up bag to reveal a tube of Estée Lauder base. “THIS is NOT make-up”- resentfully. “Would you like me to show you?”, and while talking I took one of the brushes and playfully swept it across the security member’s cheek, smiling, thinking that I was funny.
Obviously it ended badly and I was marched to the taxi airline desk where an official further orated the reasons for not allowing paint, pointing to the illustrated chart of unauthorized on-flight items and confiscated my valuables. “I don’t see any paint on there and I did bring this with me without any problems on the Cape Town side?” Everybody suddenly stared at the chart where no reference to paint could be identified. “This is not Cape Town” – picking up the phone and calling a manager. The manager referred the situation back to security at which point I took my Agrimark bag and walked off. The security member hurriedly caught up with me and tried one last time –
“Why did you say it was make-up?”