Leaving Fortress Australia

It will be Friday for two days as I fly into the past. What a rigamarole I went through to board the plane.

First before anything I had to show my covid free test result paper.

“Why does it say, the 26th and the 27th?” The polite masked gate keeper asked.

“I was tested on the 26th but the lab read the results after midnight on the 27th so I has two dates, “ I explained breathing a sigh of relief that she didn’t look at it in shock because it was from Melbourne which is now in lockdown. I’d escaped Melbourne five hours before the lockdown, but I didn’t want to talk about it, or be grilled about where I’d been, even though I hadn’t been to any of the Melbourne exposure sites.

They weren’t busy so she helped me fill in the Attestation statement online that I hadn’t been exposed to covid.

The first gate keeper waved me on to the next one. He was standing outside where I would usually check in for my ticket and my baggage. He asked for my passport. He looked me over, then turned the passport over. He put two stickers on the back proceeded to mark them asking me questions.

“Where did you go when you first came to Australia?”

“I arrived in Queensland in February 2020.”

“Where did you stay? “

“On a farm.” He stared at me like he didn’t believe it.

“What was the address.”

I told him the address, and he marked the sticker.

He waved me up to the ticket counter. The girl behind the counter was sweet and polite, like old times, only not so rushed. I asked her, “How many people are on the plane?” Hoping have an empty seat next to me.

“There are 26 people on the plane, with only 4 in your cabin.

“Oh my is that unusual ?”

“There is a limit of 60 with Covid.” My, only 60 well at least with just four there will be room for me to lay down, I thought.

She gave me my ticket, weighed my bags and put tags on them.

“You will need to get them out at LA to go through customs.”

“Yes I know I’ve done this before.”

I rolled my carry on confidently towards the security she had pointed to, only it wasn’t like any security I’d been through before. First of all I was directed down a long corridor. A uniformed man was standing at a door to the outside.” Do I have to go outside?” He said nothing and pointed to a corridor heading to the right, and then on through a door.

Finally I saw people doing the usual thing, emptying the contents of their bags into trays to be checked. I placed my electronic devices in the trays and laid my purse down. The guy ahead of me hadn’t emptied his pockets, he had to go back. Then stand again hands up to get x rayed. My turn, I stood they motioned me out, but then pulled the strap across the pathway.

Was there somethings wrong? I’’m not wearing a belt, nor even hair pins. My mind spun, but I knew it was useless to talk.

“Female check,” he said motioning to a woman on the other side of the conveyor belt. I stood still waiting. Finally the woman came, she patted me down, said something in an accent that I couldn’t understand and motioned for me to get my things.

Now to find the gate I thought but no, more security faced me. Even though I was leaving the Country I STILL needed to be scanned and identified. Australians were not allowed to leave without special permission. I put my passport in a scanner. I stood with my feet on the marks on the floor, while they flashed a mug shot.

Where are you going ? They asked me again.

“I’m going home,” I said again.

Finally I was through security or so I thought. I had a hour before I was supposed to go to the gate. The screen said relax, so I sat in a lounge chair and tried to relax. The room was almost empty, just two other passengers and another passed by. At 9;00 I proceeded to the gate where I was met with more security. First they wanted my boarding pass, then they took my passport and went and sat down examining it very closely. They motioned for me to sit in a hard chair while they continued to stare at my passport.

‘“ALL PASSENGERS MAY BOARD FOR FLIGHT DL40 TO LA” the loudspeaker announced, but not I, I had been told to sit.

“You have been selected for a routine screening by US customs.”

Surely they will hold the flight, I thought my stomach tensing as I went through one more examination.

A pat down, a screening with a metal detector of all my bags and electronic equipment, plus I had to take off my shoes and again she waved her magic wand over them. Finally I was allowed to go.

I walked quickly to the plane, and boarded.

I introduced my masked self to the other 3 passengers in the comfort plus cabin. Craig, traveling alone with his young sons, Jack and Ian.

“I’m a grandma, if there is anything I can do to help just holler.”I said, thinking what a brave man.

He said, “we’re moving to Dallas, for work, my wife is already there.”

“I’ve got grandkids in Austin.”

“I’d hoped to move to Austin, I heard such good things about it,” he said. But they said it just wouldn’t work.

“Too bad I said.” Still worrying how those kids would do with the flight as I settle in for the long haul. It is a very long haul 12 hours and 37 minutes to travel 5,156.64 miles.

As of this writing 4 hours 12 minute to go. Now flying at 39,038 feet at 624 miles per hour. The tail wind is 66mph with an outside temperature of -66 degrees F. No wonder it feels cold near the window. I had to put my coat back on.

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