A couple things you should know about me before I embark on this little story:
1. I'm really fucking stubborn.
2. As badass as I know you all think I am, you may be shocked to find out that I am not actually much of a rule-breaker or a rebel. In fact, I can only think of two times in my life when I really truly upset my parents. One, when I got my nose pierced, and two, we won't get into here. But when rules don't make sense, then why would I follow them? More on that to come.
Upon reading this entry (I think) a non-American friend of mine asked why Americans are so obsessed with carrying on all their luggage. I didn't think of it as an American thing until then, and I replied that it's probably because our airlines are obsessed with losing our luggage. And, as I was reminded on this trip, watching the luggage come around the carousel at JFK, they are also obsessed with beating the hell out of our suitcases.
As you know, Jen and I flew Icelandair to Heathrow in London, a perfectly lovely airline complete with "fun facts" about Iceland like how some ridiculously high percentage of their population is really well-educated AND also believes wholeheartedly in elves. The only thing about Icelandair is the planes are relatively small, which is fine for the five-hour hop between New York and Reykjavik. It's not really fine though for carrying a lot of luggage in the overhead.
So when we checked in at the counter and our little Icelandair helper, Kevin, asked if our suitcases fit in the little carry-on tester box thing, I quickly answered yes, of course. He looked at me dubiously and asked if he could see.
Kevin. Why do you doubt me?
Of course, neither suitcase fit because nothing but a shoebox can fit in those things. Jen gave up relatively quickly, but stubborn as I am, I told Kevin I could sit on the suitcase and zip the extension shut. He said it still wouldn't fit.
"Kevin," I said, batting my eyelashes. "Can't you let this one slide?"
He giggled nervously and said he really couldn't, that the overhead really is small, but that if it was overweight, he wouldn't charge us extra. Of course, they were both overweight, which I also don't really understand how that is possible. What is the weight limit? Oh, right, shoebox weight.
Jen explained to Kevin that I have had some bad experiences with lost luggage. How else would one come to own a two-euro pair of panties bought off a Florence street corner? Kevin promised that while other airlines lose luggage, Icelandair really wouldn't.
"Kevin," I said. "If they lose my luggage on this trip, I'm coming back here for you. I'm watching you, Kevin."
Luckily for Kevin, they did not lose my luggage, and I will admit, it was great only having to lug around my duffel bag, instead of my duffel plus a suitcase.
Still, I wasn't fully converted on the checking versus carry-on debate. So when Jen and I got ready to fly from Edinburgh to Dublin, I planned to carry on all my stuff. And I packed like I always pack -- which is to say, I broke some rules.
Specifically, I do not follow the rules regarding liquids. I haven't in years. I cannot remember the last time I bothered to put anything into a plastic baggie. I get travel-sized stuff, sure, but beyond that, I don't put it all in one place, I don't put it in a baggie, and I don't take it all out before I go through security, and guess what? No one has said AN single fucking word to me about it. Ever.
But as we rolled up to the security line in the Edinburgh airport, even I could see this method might be a bit of a problem. There were signs about liquids everywhere and plastic bag dispensers every few feet. Jen was stressing. We both had bought a shit ton of mini whiskey bottles at Dalwhinnie distillery to bring back as gifts for friends and family, and of course they didn't fit in the baggie with all the toiletries. Jen had a game plan. Mine was "I'll worry about it when I have to."
We get up to the front of the line and of course, they're like um...you guys have ALL the liquids. Such liquids. Very liquids. Jen takes care of hers. I take out the whiskey, they put it in a bag, and they send my stuff through again. I naively hope they let the shampoos and whatnot go. But no.
Listen to me when I tell you I could have carried on a foot-long butcher knife through that security line without a single problem, but shampoo and whiskey? Oh hells no.
At this point we had about a half hour before takeoff and even though it's a fairly small airport, I was starting to panic. So I tell the guy to just tell me what to do. He tells me my options are to throw out the whiskey, throw out the toiletries, or check my luggage. He suggests I check my luggage, so I ask him if I can check it at the gate, which they will probably make me do anyway because let's face it, my suitcase is probably too big for the overhead space on a puddle jumper. He tells me no, I have to go back downstairs, but he can fast-track me through security.
After he shows me where to go for the fast track and introduces me to Mr. Fast Track Guy, I run downstairs to check my luggage. The lady tells me the gate is already closed and they can't check it, but she calls someone (the Aer Lingus gods?), and they say it is OK. But she is having trouble printing the fucking label that goes around the handle. I don't know why she couldn't use one of the other dozens of printers, but she tried three fucking times to do this. I ask her if I can go to my gate while she does this, but she says no, I have to stay with my luggage.
At this point, I am in a full-blown panic, in a large part because I knew Jen would be panicking, waiting for me with the rest of my luggage. I should also note that I was sick with a cold at this point in the trip, so by now I'm feverish, shaky, sweaty, and pale, and I was pretty sure I was going to throw up. Finally, she says she can't get it to work, hands my duffel back to me, and tells me I have to chuck the liquids. FINE.
I run back upstairs and bestow my whiskey on Mr. Fast Track guy, who for the life of me I couldn't understand, but I was pretty sure he was telling me he couldn't take it. I was like for shit's sake man, I don't like whiskey either, but throw it out or something, I'm trying to make my flight.
I get to the metal detectors and I tell the bemused Scottish teenage-looking security guy that there is liquid in my bag, it's not in a plastic baggie, I hold my hands up and tell him my bracelets are going to set the metal detectors off, but my flight is about to leave. He puts my liquids in a baggie for me, I go through the metal detector and then I got the patdown of a lifetime.
No lie, this woman was ALL up in my grill, and I could not imagine why. I mean, I know I looked shady as fuck, but I had on a thin t-shirt and tight jeans. Not exactly a prime outfit for packing heat, you know? Jen pointed out later that she was probably checking for drugs because I looked...well, strung the fuck out. But if I was her, I wouldn't want to get close to me. I was about to vomit and I was sweating like I had just taken a spin class. But really, it was...well...invasive. I am pretty sure I have blocked parts of it out of my memory.
Finally, I make it through, and at this point I would like to note that I made it through with a bottle of conditioner that was at LEAST 7 ounces, so CLEARLY these liquid rules are arbitrary and no one in their right mind would give a fuck.
So Jen and I haul ass to the gate. I tripped at one point and jacked up my knee, and a lady in a wheelchair was like, "Oh my." We get to the gate, and they haven't even begun boarding because the flight was delayed.
And THEN, nine bottles of whiskey down, one twisted knee, and one decimated rebellious spirit later, the bitch at the gate made me check my suitcase.
Needless to say, lots of drinking in Dublin happened.
Note from Jen: While Staci was downstairs trying to check her luggage, I was unsuccessfully yoga breathing while pacing back and forth with both of our rolling bags topped with pillows and purses at the end of the security lines because there was nowhere for me to stand. I had no idea where she was or if she was coming back. Once I saw her getting groped by security, I booked it to the gate, nearly knocking over several wheelchair-bound elderly people in the process. #TerriblePerson