Heathrow is a little Highbrow…
When I was 19 years old, I decided that the time had come, to spread my little wings, and head on over to London.
Aaah yes, the way of the Modern South African Youth. You finish school… you board a plane to London. You do the jobs that their pasty white youths are too pissy-bitch to execute. The jobs you would never even DREAM of subjecting your milky white hands to in your own home country. You earn minimum wage. You live in the left hand corner of the 2x2m bedroom you share with another South African you’d never met before you stepped foot in Wimbledon. You don’t pay your heating bill (obviously you need that money for drinks). You pick up 15-30kg’s. You LIVE! (???!!!)
I, on the other hand… am not able to think of a worse scenario. No my friends. I was going over…to LEARN. Yes, learn. I had recently obtained my Diploma in Make-Up art (I need to use big words like “obtained” to prove to people that I didn’t study make-up because of mental retardation…just because I actually LIKE make-up), and I was going to the City of Foreigners to do an internship with a prominent Make-Up Artist. Not only was I going for educational purposes, I was going to be working with this woman for FREE! NO PAYMENT.
So, I buy my ticket, I exchange every cent I have into a few fistfuls of pounds and I board a plane. All my paperwork is in order. My Mother has strapped my incredibly sexy flesh-toned money belt firmly around my waist, and I am ready to experience LIFE! BOOM!
Uneventful plane trip over. No terrorist bombers. No ripping-off of sexy money belt in my sleep. Yes, things look good.
Little did I know… The terror and torment that awaited me at the World’s Best-Disguised Torture Chamber…
When you land at Heathrow, you get separated into 3 categories:
They get welcomed home by an entire symphony orchestra. They also receive princess crowns-for girls and gays- and motorbikes-for boys and girls who want to impress boys.
They get welcomed into London by go-go dancers, singing in their native tongue, and a firm handshake.
3)All Others (read: Terrorists, Potential Terrorists, Known Sexual Predators, Drug Mules, Homosexuals, South Africans, Americans, People with limps-even those whose one leg is just asleep from epic journey across the nations, and anyone at all with a slight tan, or headgear of some sort)
This category gets welcomed in with knowing glares, general dodgy service, suspicion, and sometimes, if they are lucky…they get treated to the character-building exercise I was fortunate enough to be subjected to.
So, I walk to the counter with the sign that says: “Foreign African Scum”…or something to that effect.
Here, I am greeted by Fiona Coin from Weakest Link. Could have been her look-alike, but can’t be sure.
I hand over the flip file of documents I have had to lug across the globe with me. Flip file contains: Passport (South African—curse my middle class Grandparents and their African heritage), Copy of bank statements since conception, Letter from boss indicating that I have a steady job, and will be returning to it after my 3 month holiday, Numbers of every person I have ever met, now living in London, stating that I will be staying with them, for short periods of time, as their guest. NOTE: No VISA!!!
Immigrations Woman: *somehow managing to keep beady little accusing eye on me at all times, as she flips through my papers* “Where is your visa?”
Me: *looking scared as hell-no acting required* “(Well Fiona,) I don’t have one, as I’m only here on holiday.” *This was when South Africans could go on holiday to London for up to 3 months without a Visa* *Think I might have ruined it for everyone* #sorry
Fiona: ”How long?”
Me: “Three months.”
Fiona: *Now looking outraged, as well as suspicious* “Do you expect me believe, that a South African (obviously, this word tastes bad, because she looks like she is trying to spit it out) can afford to come to THE MOST expensive city in the WORLD for THREE MONTHS on holiday?!” *This woman does not mince her words, let me tell you*
Me: “Um, well, I have brought my life savings with me?”
Fiona: “Who are you staying with?”
Me: (Fiona, it’s right there in front of you. On that letter that says who I’m staying with. Are you not able to read? Is this why you are so angry?) “My dad’s cousin. Jethro Kruger.”
Fiona: “How long have you known Mr Kruger?”
Me: “?????” (Fiona, we are family. I have known him since my birth.) “Um, my whole life.”
Fiona: *Now trying new angle* “Isn’t in summer in South Africa now?”
Me: (How, Fiona, is this relevant?) “Yes?” *I’m not sure if this is trick question or not. Start to doubt myself. Is it summer?? It’s Feb…is that still classified as summer?! Should I have said ‘No Fiona, but thank you for asking. It is, in fact, End-Of-Summer.’ Then Fiona might smile-perhaps that’s pushing it, and say, ‘What a clever little African you are! Welcome! Please enjoy your stay with us, and be sure to mind the gap!’*
Fiona: “So, why would you come to winter in London?”
Me: (Fiona, you are a strange, and sadistic woman, and I think I hate you) “Well, I’ve had 19 summers in South Africa, and I don’t really mind the cold.” *Can’t be sure if this is correct answer*
Fiona: *Hands me a piece of paper* “This piece of paper, indicates that I do not believe your story, and the reasons why. Do you understand? Now, sign here.”
Me: “(???)” *sign* *now eyeballs start to leak*
So here I sit, on the wrong side of the Heathrow Immigrations Border. Fiona has gone somewhere-presumably to sharpen her horns and kick some babies and old people. I wonder “Am I going to be deported? Why does Fiona hate me? Is this because I look Asian?”
Fiona returns with a guy who looks like Hugh Grants pantsless buddy in Notting Hill. This lifts my spirits slightly. On closer inspection, I see that it is not him. Back to state of fear/depression/anxiety.
Fiona sends me with Not Notting Hill Guy. My thoughts: “Is this headed toward a cavity search??? Please! No! Nooooo!!!” I try to ask him a question, but it comes out as “Squeek.”
Not Notting Hill guy hands me over to a man with a turban. Is this what happens to suspected terrorists?! They get handed over to fellow terrorists?! Are we going to some form of Terror Club where we swap terror methods and it’s all filmed and aired on the Crime Channel??
No. Turns out this man works for Heathrow Airport (???) (Suicide Worker??) He tells me that he needs to search my bag. So we collect it from the carousel. Being that it weighs 40kg’s, you would expect Turban Man to help me carry it? You would be wrong.
So, I drag my bag along, with Mr Turban uncomfortably close (but not close enough to help carry) to what I can only assume is the Terrorist Search Room. We stop. In the middle of nowhere. Mr Turban orders me to pick up my 40kg bag, and put it on this table. Due to extreme fear, I eagerly oblige.
Mr Turban whips out (I kid you NOT!) a pair of Blue Latex Gloves!!! *Here it comes…the cavity search…in the middle of the TERMINAL!!!…with people EVERYWHERE!!!…*
Turban: “Please unzip your (Pants right??? You’re going to say pants!!!) bag.
*I unzip bag*
Turban starts to remove my clothing. (From the bag you perverts! We already established that this is NOT a cavity search.) Of course, the first thing he displays, for all the world to see would be, my panties. And no, not my Wednesday panties. Not the ones you wear just for the sake of wearing panties. Nope. He removes The Saturday Panties.
Not one to be put off by a good piece of lingerie, he forges ahead. (Real trooper, this one.)
Turban: “Does your bag contain any meat?”
Turban continues to remove my meticulously folded clothes from my meticulously packed bag. Obviously this man does not understand that in order to get all this stuff in there in the first place, I had to take 2 days off work, have my clothes folded by an origami artist, inserted into the bag by a midget (small hands) and vacuum packed, and that I am for no reason going to be able to squish it all back in there!!
Once Mr Turban has established that I’m not smuggling any drugs, small African children, pigeon meat (?????) or any other contraband, he orders me to put it all back. UGH!!!! *Is it just me, or does he look somewhat disappointed? Obviously he has yet to find someone with a gram of cocaine/pigeon folded between their Saturday Panties who he can point at and yell: “You see!! EEEEt’s not just my people!! Look!! No nappy on head, but STEEELL TerrorEEEEst!! Arrest thEEEEs pigeon smugglEEEng African woman and beat her wEEEEth my pashmEEEEna!!!”
So, the whole ordeal is finally over, and I am now free to proceed into the streets of London with reckless abandon!!!!
—-TO BE CONTINUED—-