The one last, irrevocable act that settles the inevitability of these trips is the phone call, typically sometime between 3.30pm and 5.00pm, confirming a check-in time for the next day. Beyond that, it is a fairly straight forward routine – wake up just past 5.00am, sort out my morning ablutions and then proceed to drag my two pieces of luggage down Park Road, up Kings and up to the bus station just outside Union Square. Thereafter there is a wait – between five and twenty minutes depending on when I arrive – before the 727 to the airport begins its crawl towards Dyce and the airport.
That ride, typically a 30 minute one, is largely spent in silence, punctuated only by bell presses alerting the driver to people’s need to alight as required; their stern, mostly tired faces, hardly inspiring conversation. Outside, there is only a steady stream of early morning commute traffic, and the overwhelming grey of dull, bland buildings to view, until the final stretch of the A96 where some greenery mercifully appears to break the depressingly monotonous view.
Today’s trip lasts just a little over 35 minutes, a snarl getting off Great Northern Road ensuring we spill over the allotted time. Delay notwithstanding, I arrive with plenty of time to grab a coffee before proceeding to the counter to check-in for my flight which is planned to leave by 10.45am.
Check-in is quick. The frazzled woman at the front desk runs me through the routine – passport checked, vantage card eyeballed, bags weighed, quick step on the scale and then the check to confirm my stored details are still correct – and then waves me through to baggage check in.
I join the lengthening queue in front of the full body scanning machine as it inches along. When it is my turn, the man on the other side motions for me to step through. I do not set off any alarms today. My bags get scanned, and then taken apart and searched. I get the all clear after two minutes and some, and then proceed to get my jacket, belt and shoes back on.
9.10 am… My day has just begun.