Zen and the Art of Israeli Airport Security: The Mile High Book Club

on Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Great. I missed the plane. And almost got myself arrested at Ben Gurion airport. I blame EasyJet. The ticket says to be there by 7.35. Granted, Debbie and I got on the wrong train, ended up in Lod, had to go back to square one and get on the right train to the airport. That's not the point. We rushed to get our bags from the luggage storage room in Terminal 3, which is really just a room full of suitcases strewn around the place watched over by a bored, fresh-outta-the-army girl with nose piercings and an over-exaggerated gum chewing action. We sprinted to catch the shuttle to Terminal 1 but, of course, we didn't know when it was next scheduled to come and only had 25 minutes to spare so we were forced to catch a taxi driven by a nasty extortionist who clearly revels in the pain of panicked travellers. Twenty bucks later we ran into the Check-In area at 7.20 - cutting it fine but still 15 minutes in the black - only to be confronted by... a near empty terminal. A swarm of security guards stood at the start of what should have been the queue.

"Why you here?" demanded the fat, bald, surly one.

"We need to check in."

"You are too late. It closed."

"But the ticket says it closes at 7.35. It is only 7.20."

"They close fifteen minutes ago. Nobody here. You missed your plane."

"But it says..."

"Not my problem. Go away."

"Can we speak to someone?"

"This is Israel. You have to be here 3 hours before the flight."

"But the ticket says..."

"Not my problem. Call the airline. Go away."

"Who do we call? We don't have a number."

"It's not my problem. Go away we are closed."

Etc. Etc.

As we got increasingly angry I fronted the guard with a less than intelligent (even for me) outburst. "We're asking for help. You are the sort of stupid asshole who gives Israelis a bad name around the world." Big mistake. We, um, 'leave' the terminal and are forced to take another, slightly less extortionate taxi to Terminal 3. Thankfully, the lady at information tries to help us but EasyJet don't want a bar of it even when airport staff tell them that they did not follow the guidelines printed on their own tickets. One of the younger security guards from Terminal 1 comes up and apologises to us for the behaviour of her colleague and wishes us luck. But there is no luck to be had. Debbie is forced to look for flights to London on my computer while I, helpful as ever, head to the bookstore.

Steimatsky has no top 10 list for English books. Indeed, the section is in total disarray. I head over to the girl behind the counter and ask her for a good book by an Israeli author that is quite popular but not too popular. "If you had a list, it would be somewhere around number 5." She looked at me like I had asked her for a bacon and cheese burger, but soon recovered and gave me her recommendation.

Which is how book number 5 in my fifth airport for the April Book Challenge The Mile High Book Club has turned out to be Writing In The Dark by David Grossman.

(NB There was no bookstore at airport number 4 - Eilat - so according to the rules I had to skip that number.)


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