When I was a teenager we had fairly regular bomb scares at school. I was too politically naïve to know if it was the IRA or the PLO who were intent on disrupting my education, but I do remember that we spent many happy hours out on the playing fields waiting while sniffer dogs and their handlers searched the building.

countdown on computer screen
We were always told to take our bags with us when we evacuated the building as it left fewer things to be searched. And I learned to be wary of bags and packages left unattended at airports, railway stations and shopping centres.

I do quite a lot of travelling now, and although I occasionally talk to other travellers, I get very cross when people ask me to watch their bags for them, and crosser still when they take it badly when I refuse.

Yesterday, at Madrid airport, my plane was delayed, so I had time to walk the length and breadth of Terminal 1 looking for a decent café con leche before I left Spain.

They’ve been busy with refurbishments at Barajas since I was last there and now you have to walk through Duty Free whether you want to or not, and the only coffee shop is a Starbucks. There is a Burger King opening shortly, but nothing like the old Spanish bars they used to have. Still, the woman at the information desk told me there was still an autoservicio down by Gate A16, so I set off on a fifteen minute hike. (Well, ten minutes there, when the travellators were in my favour, but rather longer coming back.)

When I sat down with my coffee – “con leche, corto de café, con la leche muy caliente” – not venti, tall, or grande, not skinny, iced or spiced – I noticed the rucksack and computer in the photo up above. The computer was plugged into a socket on the wall, not particularly close to any of the surrounding tables, and no one seemed to be paying it a blind bit of notice.

I travel with gadgets, too, so am always looking for places to recharge my laptop, tablet or smart phone en route, so that didn’t bother me. It was the proliferation of cables, the slouched backpack and the countdown ticking on the screen that were slightly disconcerting.

countdown on computer screen
Still, with over half an hour still showing, even if the coffee really was muy caliente I reckoned I had plenty of time to drink it and get back to the other end of the terminal before things got critical.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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