It was the last flight of the day and because it was pretty late, I did a mental debate on whether or not to check in my bag. It was a small bag and I could easily carry it as a hand luggage, except that I had all these items(body cream, spray and perfume) that security gives you grief for taking on board. In western airports (At least, the ones I have been to), all you had to do was keep them within a specified quantity and put them in a sealed bag. But in Nigeria, no matter how small it is or how it’s packed, once it comes under the radar of the security personnels, they always give you ‘wahala’ for it. Generally, I have never really understood the rationale of this rule. Somehow, it is okay to carry 10 perfumes, body sprays and what have not, if you bought them at duty free but same items are prohibited, unless within a specific quantity, when you bring them into the airport with you?
Anyway, I contemplated checking my bag in just to avoid the drama at security but then, there was the issue of it already being a late flight which was going to be further delayed. I didn’t want to spend extra time waiting for my bag to come through after disembarking, especially since I had already arranged for an airport pickup which was likely to be waiting before we landed. Finally, I decided to take the risk and carry my bag as a hand luggage, after all, my friend had told me she always did that and never had an issue at security, despite having a lot of x-ed items. Maybe I was going to get lucky, otherwise, if my bag got pointed out, I would try sweet-talking myself through, I thought to myself.
So I checked in, carried my bag, popped it through the security scanner and went over to the other side to await the verdict. There were about 6 or 7 other people getting through security at same time so I was really expectant that I would escape the slaughter (A bit dramatic but this girl really hates to lose her toiletries). Long story short, I wasn’t so lucky and my bag got pointed out. ‘There’s something like a spray in your bag, open it, please’, the man at security said to me.
The sharp Naija girl in me quickly took advantage of the somewhat rowdiness of the situation, opened my bag and pulled out only my half-empty bottle of body spray, with my other deodorants safely hidden at the bottom of my bag. The security man took the body spray from my hand and said, ‘you can’t take this on board with you’. I had once gotten into a debate with a security personnel at an airport on how you are allowed to carry a limited quantity of deodorant on board a plane. It had ended up getting a bit heated with I think me telling her, she could have it if it made her feel better. But then, I didn’t really mind leaving it behind and had just relocated back to Nigeria from the UK, as a result, was fuelled up with excessive energy to ‘correct’ whatever I deemed inappropriate behaviour from anyone carrying out a customer-focussed responsibility. Needless to say, the energy soon ran out, so this time, I figured out pleading in a my best baby-impression voice was going to yield better results.
The security man was also attending to another lady who had same issue as me (Well, not really). She was his colleague of some sort and had become angry at him for even asking her to open her bag at all but she opened it eventually. She had a large hairspray and another smaller body spray that looked like mine. While still holding mine in his hands,the man handed her items back to her and said, ‘you can go’. So typically, I tried to take advantage of the situation (After all, mine was way smaller than hers), and said to him, ‘can I go too?’ He looked at me and said, ‘No!’ In his bid to provide further explanation for his answer, he went on to say, ‘She’s my colleague that’s why I let her go’. To this I responded, ‘so are you saying that different rules apply to the both of us?’ Now, you have to understand I thought this had sealed the deal, and surely he was going to let me take my body spray and go, but this man looked me straight in the eyes and said an emphatic ‘Yes!’ I was so bloody stunted. Now, I am not naïve to be surprised about the fact that different rules apply to different people; I know that’s just the way things are. But, I was shocked that this man could so boldly declared it with a confidence that screamed rightness. Out went my politeness and I was about to explode in anger when thankfully, the lady sitting right behind him, who had witnessed the entire happening, called to him to give me back my body spray. I don’t know if she saw the smoke coming out of my ears or she thought the situation was as ridiculous as it was. He handed it back to me, allowing to go and honestly I felt like doing something like spraying some of it into his eyes or sticking my tongue out at him or kicking him, but I had to settle with calling him a ‘foolish man!’ (In my mind of course, no need getting arrested over a body spray).
So yes, I got back my body spray and flew to my destination with my hand luggage in tact, only to disembark and get an email saying that the reason for my rather late trip; an early appointment for the next morning had been cancelled. But that’s a story for another day.