Orange juice and airplanes don't mix

The security officer glared at the bottle and we both knew what was coming.

"You cannot take that on the flight," she said robotically.

"It's orange juice," I pleaded.

"Cannot take it on the flight," the security officer retorted.

Clearly, they thought my diluted orange cordial constituted a flight security risk. They obviously had never tasted diluted orange cordial before, which is weaker than a kitten's urine.

My concoction comes from my childhood. As my family was poor, a bottle of orange cordial was a bit of a luxury, so my mother treated it like medicine, allowing us only one teaspoon twice a day.

To be honest, cough syrup tasted better.

But old habits die hard, so unless I planned on splashing orange-tinted water at people on the plane, I posed no security threat.

Oh, I know you're not supposed to make fun of airport security personnel, but actually you should. It is as petty as it is daft.

The same silly questions were still asked at the check-in counter last week, only they were more daft and more repetitive.

I was asked to be really, really sure that I didn't have any inflammable objects.

Of course there was nothing, apart from the flamethrower which I never leave home without.

What kind of trainee terrorist would fall at such a flimsy first hurdle.

Imagine the guy going back to his training camp and saying: "Hey guys, yeah, it was a disaster. I know I had three years of training and learnt four languages, but the girl at the counter asked if I had packed anything flammable, so I just had to tell her about the flame thrower.

"Looking back, it was probably a bit too conspicuous as it stuck out of either side of the suitcase."

For some reason, my check-in interrogator grilled me. My mother always said I had a face for Hollywood. She said I could play serial killers. And this woman was certainly persistent with her questioning.

Twice, she asked me if I had packed any sharp objects.

And the truth was, I had.

My toenail clippers could snap padlocks.

They have to. When it comes to my trotters, standard toenail clippers are less effective than a penknife chopping trees.

By the time I reached the final security checkpoint inside the departure lounge, I was ready to spray the terminal with my orange-tinted water.

The security officer insisted that I dispose of the cordial like it was a rotting corpse.

As I alluded to earlier, I'm a cheapskate. The orange juice might have looked like something passed out by an alcoholic after a heavy night out, but that didn't mean I was ready to throw it away.

We all know that the only lifestyle essentials more expensive than a home or a car in Singapore is a drink of any description bought inside an airport.

I was most reluctant to give up the orange juice. She was asking me to lose around 30 cents worth of beverage for a paranoid security measure.

So in an embarrassing moment of petulance, I struck a blow for the common man by swigging the orange juice in front of her.

"See? I wouldn't be drinking so much if there was something wrong with it," I insisted. "Does this convince you?"

It didn't. I still couldn't take the orange cordial on board. And I urinated like an uncle with incontinence for the entire flight.

Like most sane, rational travellers, the only issue I have with these irritating measures is that they are so petty that well-meaning security folks often miss the wood for the trees.

On the return leg of that journey, I was waiting for my luggage at Changi Airport's Terminal 1 when I noticed an unattended bag left on the floor near customs officers.

I didn't want to be Mr Kaypoh Meets Mr Kiasu, but it sat there for several minutes and, yes, the orange cordial thing still bothered me.

"Excuse me, there's an unattended bag," I whispered to an airport employee at the baggage carousel. "Maybe you should check it out." "Yes, sir."

Nothing happened. I spoke to another couple of uniformed folks - one a security guard - and still the bag sat on the floor.

I considered standing beside it and pulling out a 600ml-sized bottle of diluted orange cordial.

I figured I would be pounced on in a matter of seconds, surrounded by eagle-eyed security personnel, all poised with measuring jugs and ready to see how much I was over the permitted 100ml limit for liquids.

By the time I pointed out the bag to another security guard, I was prepared to whip out my oversized toenail clippers.

Finally, after a long time, someone decided to pick up the bag, realising that it was probably making other passengers nervous.

So there is a moral to this story, a lesson for us all to learn.

If you're not allowed to take a bottle of orange cordial onto a flight, don't throw it away. Just leave the juice in a bag on the airport floor and pick it up when you return home.

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