Howard Saunders   Nov 01, 2019   Uncategorized   0 Comment

As everyone knows, giraffes can be deadly. If one were to break loose on an aeroplane, for example, the carnage it would unleash would be unimaginable. Thankfully, over the last couple of decades, the authorities have put in place unprecedented levels of security to ensure that the chances of giraffe based incidents are kept to an absolute minimum. You would think that with their ridiculously extended and conspicuously dappled necks they would be impossible to conceal, but I’m afraid you would be mistaken.

Your holiday starts here folks! Firstly, when you book your flight you are specifically asked to declare (please be aware that ticking the box is a legally binding document), whether you intend to carry a giraffe, or any giraffe related objects within your baggage. Once at the airport you must then confirm this verbally at check in. You may only have packed a twelve year old pair of trunks and a bottle of Tesco’s suncream, so it’s hard to imagine that one of your fellow passengers may attempt to smuggle a giraffe into Benidorm.

Next stop is the serious security. Here you must wait in line (looking at your mobile phone is an offence here, remember) stepping forward only when instructed. To make it easy for you there are bright yellow footprint stickers on the floor, so it’s pretty straightforward. Step outside the designated standing zones and they will quickly correct you, don’t worry. When you eventually arrive at the conveyor belt you must remove your jacket, belt, shoes, large jewellery and ensure your pockets are completely empty. Wedding rings are, rather generously, allowed to remain worn. Laptops and tablets must be taken out of your bag and laid inside the big plastic tray that pops out at your knees. As most of us now know, laptops and iPads are classic giraffe hiding places. 

It’s worth noting that the security staff won’t offer to help you with this cumbersome bucket, as it’s not in their job description, so if you are frail or disabled you will have to ask politely for help. The staff may bark at you, but they are trained to preface their orders with Sir or Madam, so at least it’s respectful barking. 

There are often cheery animated videos to remind you of exactly which items are prohibited. It’s nice that they make it entertaining as you inch forward to be body-searched, don’t you think? Liquids, for example, must not be larger than 100 ml, as clearly a miniature giraffe can be concealed in a container of 101 ml. They’ve worked it all out. Smaller liquids, like eye drops, must be placed in a pocket-sized, transparent plastic bag (provided). But remember, this bag MUST be sealed. Presumably, if a tiny giraffe was hiding inside your Optrex then the sealed bag would prevent it from escaping and galloping along the conveyor belt to its certain death.

As your belongings trundle their way into the x-ray machine, (don’t worry, it’s a very low dose) your next check is the metal detector. This one is easy but nonetheless frustrating, as it often takes two or three attempts before they determine it’s your watch or hip replacement that sets the red light flashing. 

Naturally, they leave the most exciting piece of equipment ’til last: the full body scanner! When the highly trained security guard is ready, and not until mind, you are beckoned into the pod to be bombarded with high frequency radio waves. You must remember to empty your pockets before you step inside, as the thinnest cotton hanky will set it off. In here, you are ordered to stand as if being held at gunpoint after a failed bank raid: head upright, facing forward and hands well above your head with the palms open. The Star Trek like plastic door swivels around you but you must wait for the no-giraffe signal before you’re permitted to step outside for an intimate full-body pat-down. Finally, you are ordered to place each foot on a chair for a highly sophisticated smear test. The cotton wool swab is scanned into a computer that detects microscopic giraffe particles that may have been inadvertently picked up from a visit to a zoo, for example. Once you’ve been given the all clear, you’re allowed to collect your belongings, and get dressed properly in front of all the other jolly, shoeless holiday makers.

Keeping you safe like this is is a gigantic investment. Consider that there are over one hundred thousand flights carrying a total of up to eight million passengers every day. That’s forty million flights every year, carrying five billion giraffe-free passengers! This costs upwards of $50 billion globally every year. Or for those of you who prefer to build hospitals, that’s 150 fully functioning, full sized hospitals every year. We pay for it all, of course. Roughly four quid on every ticket.

Tragically, there have been many giraffe-based fatalities on trains and buses, namely London, Madrid and a dozen or more in India. As it’s unlikely train or bus fares will ever accommodate a four quid surcharge, I’m sorry to say that urban commuters remain exposed to the risk of a giraffe attack at any moment.

Incredibly, despite the billions of bawling babies hauled from pushchairs, trillions of befuddled old ladies hoisted from wheelchairs, and quintillions of pasty faced holiday hopefuls forced to remove their shoes and belts like dazed POWs, despite all this, the authorities have yet to find a single giraffe. That’s dedication for you.

Keep up the good work guys!

Please follow me on Twitter @retailfuturist for daily retail rantings and musings

About Howard Saunders

Howard has worked in retail design for over twenty five years. As a former Creative Director of Fitch, based in London, he was responsible for retail design and branding and for creating multi-disciplinary teams of architects, graphic designers, product designers and copywriters and making them work together! As an independent consultant Howard has worked closely with Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Westfield, for over a decade, helping them develop new store designs and keeping them informed of the latest retail innovations and shifts in customer expectations. His work with Westfield, for example, culminated in the creation of the artisan Great Eastern Market at Westfield Stratford, Europe’s largest shopping centre, which opened in 2011 on London’s Olympic Park. Now based in New York, Howard’s current clients include CBRE, Claire’s Accessories, Consumer Goods Forum, Ebay, Johnson & Johnson, L’Occitane, Magento, Mothercare, Permira and Westfield World Trade Center. As an international speaker Howard’s talks are big, visual journeys across the world of retail. Provocative, challenging, brutally honest, evidence based and thoroughly entertaining.

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