Fill her up please with Starbucks latte and can you check the oil is sun factor 50?

Why...

Can I no longer find signs at motorway service stations that say Fuel Only This Way→? They have disappeared over the past few years. Now, before I find the pumps, I am led like a piggy with a ring through my nose past the retail equivalent of a children’s honey trap; an entire village of tat. I feel so sorry for families with kids in the back, who, on seeing these places bounce around like squash balls on heat wanting to get out and empty their parents’ wallet. On entering these cluster of shops I am simply blown away at the kind of stuff you can now buy, as well as what you can’t (i.e. indicator bulbs for your car). Quite apart from just about every franchise that sells you a ‘heart-attack in-a-sack’, there are video games rooms, playpens for toddlers, make-up bars, CD’s, DVDs, clothing and numerous toys….some so large I’d need an articulated truck to take them home. Let’s not forget the wide selection of abandoned puppies. Kids are running around the place screaming and yelling from a massive overdose of sugar yet there is always a solitary Janitor sharing my ablutions in the bathroom along with the triangle warning sign of a slippery floor. Sadly at my age a full tank of fuel lasts much longer than I do so rest stops are quite frequent, but the only time I have ever fallen over in the bathroom was due to alcohol not an attendant’s mop.

...and another thing

It’s even worse in an airport. Every bathroom I want to use seems to be closed due to a cleaner, so I have to walk miles till I find one that I can actually use. As for the retail offering, the variety is positively mindboggling. Everything from diamonds and cars to doughnuts and caviar.

After checking through passport control I am made to meander though endless corridors of Duty free and overpriced shops trying to convince me that although it’s 07.30 AM and I am on a business trip to Hamburg, this is the most convenient place to buy a full set of Winnie the Pooh China as well as have a slug of Bailey’s Irish Cream.

...and another thing

As for checking onto the plane itself, you seem doomed to lose your dignity whilst being searched, prodded and poked. Maybe understandable for someone like me who clearly looks dodgy, but surely not a Grannie from Des Moines or an accountant from Rochdale? Not for one moment can anyone seriously suspect either of being a member of some terrorist organisation (unless you count the Women’s Institute or a Masonic Lodge). Yet if either dare to question procedure, the shield of security becomes a sword or retribution. Muttering the word’s ‘security’ and ‘protection of others’ they are hauled off to one side to enjoy the rubber glove enema!

...and another thing

I arrive only to be faced with zigzag roping that might be necessary at peak times. However when the place is empty I resemble a mouse in an experimental maize walking from left to right to left whilst being watched by a beady eyed Immigration Officer. I bob my way to his desk and feel like I should get a rewarding piece of cheese as well as a passport nod.

WARNING. Do not under any circumstances go under the webbing barriers or worse unhook them. You will be told by Officer Ratched to reattach them all. You then will sit on the naughty step for half an hour before going back to the beginning. As you trudge back, a Jumbo jet full of Japanese arrive and floods immigration. At that moment you will probably to be nearly run over by some officious fool in an electronic buggy that beeps incessantly whilst he tries to impress his VIP passengers that he is an undiscovered Formula 1 champ.

Clearly, all arriving passengers seek the reassurance from Border Control that the bad don’t get in, but don’t they know already? I must assume that the moment a plane takes off the Immigration crew at the destination end are sent a full list of passengers. They know well in advance of any unsavoury characters they want to winkle out, so why are we all checked out like suspects in a Police line-up, especially when it’s our home country!

...and another thing

Talking of queues at airports, nothing is more frustrating than getting off a 22 hour flight to arrive at the Taxi rank and faced with a long wait. You know at every airport the Taxi holding pens are nearly always full, yet some numbskull in a uniform likes to have them arrive with the same slow drip as a Chinese water torture. Hopefully when the official arrives home, his children at least make him queue to use the bathroom.

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3 Comments

  1. Avatar Audrey says:

    You have nailed Airport Life…. & Another Thing…. why do we still have to have a 20 minute bus journey to the plane after all the money spent on new Heathrow terminals and don’t even get me started on the electronic passport system at Heathrow which lately has queues as long as the manual system !

  2. Avatar Wayne says:

    Such a true and funny state of affairs Mark. You say the stuff we all think and secretly seeth about! Awesome Blog!

  3. Avatar Tony Ritz says:

    You are so right on! The big reason to use a credit card at the petrol station is to avoid having to wade through and onslaught of lip balm, bags of skittles and some manner of electrically heated frankfurter turning to stone on some endless rotomat. . . .and the airport?? How accurate is that? The powers that be have turned entry level employees in to officials that have more authority than a legislator. You are so right! They had months to do their due diligence regarding who is going to fly on what date. . .Why do they have to look up my anus, among other things when I check in?