Airports and runaway children

deptloungeI thought I would post something a little different today.   Around 2 years ago I started documenting some of my experiences from my UAE adventure as I like to refer to it, working as an educator in the UAE and other middle east countries for around 7 years.   This post is one of those experiences:

It was the winter of 2009 or in actually fact January the first when I made my way back from visiting my parents in Glasgow, back to my home in Preston, before boarding a plane at Manchester airport bound for the UAE.    My wife, myself and our two sons had packed up some of our house and sent it via sea to the UAE some weeks earlier, other belonging were sold, while the final pieces of furniture were transported by myself in a transit van for storage at my parents house for the eighteen months we would be away.    Speaking to my father just recently, my belongings still occupy the garage and at least one bedroom at my parents home some seven years after we left.   So much for eighteen months!

Having traveled back from Scotland early on the first of January, as a family we stopped off and had something to eat before taking the rented car, ourselves and our luggage to Manchester airport.   We arrived at the airport in the early afternoon well ahead of our flight, wanting to make sure that everything went as planned.    It was a good thing we had done so.

Generally the process of checking in went without incident and we quickly found ourselves going through airport security on the way to the departure lounge.   We had Andrew, who was two year old, out of his push chair standing beside us in order to allow the push chair to be collapsed ready to be fed through the metal detector.   The queue at the time was quite long as everyone looked to board the Abu Dhabi borne flight which clearly was full, including significant numbers of people going to work for the same company I was destined to work for although at the time I was unaware of this.   Guiding the queue was the usual snaking tape barrier which crisscrossed the room with the patient passengers slowly meandering towards the security stations.   We slowly made our way forward, every step bringing us closer to our UAE adventure.   Reflecting I am not sure whether I was nervous or excited, or maybe even a little scared.

As we reached the front of the queue the security officer on duty asked us to take off belts and other metal items, place them in a container and then feed this through the metal detector.    The now folded push chair also had to be fed through the metal detector.   As the push chair was placed on the conveyor belt leading to the metal detector the problems began.   Andrew became a little upset as his push chair disappeared into the scanning device.

“Mine!…Mine!…..” he shouted.

“Its ok….You’ll get it back in a minute” I soothed in the hope that he would calm down before everyone in the queue had our undivided attention.      It was at this point the security officer motioned towards Andrew who stood clinging on to me.    The officer instructed me that Andrews big warm coat would need to go through the metal detector.    I dutifully complied and unzipped Andrews coat and again he became upset.

“Mine!…Mine!…..” he shouted.

I helped his left arm out of his coat and went to repeat the task with his other arm at which point Andrew saw his chance and with one swift movement he spun around, spinning out of his open coat and breaking into a sprint, or maybe a fast toddle may be more accurate given he was only two at the time.

I at this point found myself standing in front of a security station and associated security officer holding a now empty child’s winter coat while its previous occupant made for the entrance and the check in area which we had passed through some time earlier.    After overcoming the initial shock of things I made off in hot pursuit although the escaping child standing at just over 1 foot in height, at best had a distinct advantage……A snaking tape barrier set at around two foot.   As such I set off in pursuit forced to take the long way around while my son took the much more direct route.    Onlookers were powerless, either due to shock, disbelief or more commonly due to uncontrollable laughter, as my son made his way to the exit.

Thankfully I was able to catch up with him and convince him to return to the security station, and eventually through the security station where he was happily met once more by his winter jacket and push chair.    Overall the plane journey which followed went off with minimal drama or fuss possibly due to Andrews few moments of exertion having made a break for it.    Some eight hours later we arrived in Abu Dhabi in the UAE and our planned eighteen month adventure began and some almost seven years later it still hadn’t ended!