Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Back from a Trip to the Prairies

I'm glad that my current line of work does not require that I travel often.  In fact, it doesn't allow for much travel.  There is something about flying that irks me.  The usual irritations: security check, delays, airport food.  The hassles of the trip I took recently back to my hometown in Alberta was typical enough.  A three-hour delay on my connecting flight, a food voucher, a $10 mozza on ciabatta that tasted like cardboard. That is all irksome. Then there is the feeling that you are in a HSBC world, being propelled into its future, where corn and cotton compete as commodities, where technology and nature are one. We've all seen it in the bridge to the plane, but I have to look away.

I won't harp on that. What really pained me, on this particular trip, was a moment that was very much routine, but wasn't for me, not this time. Like Dostoevsky and the flogged horse, or Byron and the dead Goldfish, I was deeply upset by the chucking of my jar of honey at the security gate. I had forgotten about the restrictions before I walked in with my backpack, which held the honey jar in a bag of clothes. Though I am used to packing my shaving kit and its lotions in my checked luggage, and though I never bring yogurt as a snack, the honey didn't register when I was configuring my bags. I guess because I just haven't come to see honey as a lethal weapon like I have yogurt and lotion. Maybe because it was creamed and it seemed so solid. I don't know. I know that most people think, “well, you should have known better.” And they think that the people there were just doing their job when they took the bulbous jar, and tossed it into a big plastic bin, where it landed with a woosh on the black plastic lining and with a thud on the base. Indeed, they were just doing their job. I had said, “don't throw it out, it's good honey” and it was good honey, it was not pasteurized and sold in a store but was sourced from a local source, it was not a commodity to be traded along with BT corn and cotton. And they said languidly that they couldn't keep it because it would be like taking a gift, which was against their policies. And who knows if it might be laced with something or set to blow up.

When I reached for a different jar of honey at my home, the one that was to be followed by the one that got chucked, after arriving late last night and getting a piece of toast ready, I felt a twinge. Now, I'm afraid that whenever I see honey, I will feel the thud of the jar as it went into a garbage, to be trucked to a landfill. It's not an occurrence that has brought any particular resolve, like “I am never going to travel on a plane again,” though it has made the experience of going through airports sourer than it was. No, it just makes me sad.

I should mention briefly that the fields are drying and the seedlings are thriving, which is some consolation.

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