What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

16 October 2010

Airport Security

On our comings and goings to Lubbock last weekend, Chad was stopped for special screening. Twice.

In all our travelling in nearly nine years of marriage, I think Chad has maybe been subjected to extra screening once, ever. Me, on the other hand-- the TSA loves me.

For a while, I wondered why this was. Why me and not Chad? After all, let's review; I'm a tiny woman with more flab than muscle who looks anywhere from 5-10 years younger than my actual age (depending on the day, the clothes I'm wearing, and the intelligence level of the observer). Chad is a tall, large man who generally doesn't bother to shave and usually shows up at the airport unkempt. And if he's both bearded and unsmiling, he looks pretty scary. And the security people look at the two of us and decide that I'm the one who is going to go postal at 30,000 feet. Okay, then.

So, I wasn't at all sad that my husband was subject to extra investigation, twice, because if we add up all our security encounters, I still come out ahead. He does make me a bit nervous by his refusal to take anything seriously; the last time we flew through London (immediately after the London-based scare that removed all liquids from the cabin permanently, btw), the gentleman at security asked, "Do you have anything that could be used as a weapon?" and Chad answered, "Well, I have a pen." Yes, it's a stupid question, but it only takes one grumpy member of security for us to be detained for hours and miss our flight, plus whatever else they might decide to inflict upon the smart-aleck Americans.

One of my favourite security encounters ever came in Glasgow, when I was stopped for screening and Chad was ordered (yes, ordered) to keep going. The woman took everything out of my bag and examined it all
s-l-o-w-l-y and c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y. I had bought a bunch of nested boxes at IKEA, thinking they would be cute for corralling small clutter, and she took off all the lids, looked at five little boxes sitting inside each other, then looked at me and asked, "What's this?" I didn't say, "A bunch of cardboard," or "Does it look dangerous? Really?" or "What do you THINK it is?". Instead I said, "Nesting boxes." Then she asked, "What's it for?" What's it for??? It's a stack of cardboard boxes!! And once I was done sharing my interior decorating tips with her, she stood and watched me re-pack my entire bag. I had second thoughts about flying through Glasgow ever again that day.

The scary wreath of doom.
Indianapolis, though: Indianapolis wins. By quite a large margin. I usually take a craft project with me on the plane, and I always check the TSA list before packing to be sure that my crochet hook or needle or cross-stitch fabric is allowed in the cabin, and measure my scissors so I don't lose them at the security checkpoint. I've never been challenged on any of this stuff, until the last time I went to Indiana. The man stopped me, took my scissors out of my bag, shouted "Does anyone have a tape measure?", and then wandered off for five minutes (I thought about just leaving without the scissors, he took so long). When he came back, he frowned at my wire coat hanger half-covered in peppermints for a while before deciding that he needn't take it away. Then, he directed me into the full-body X-ray machine that Indianapolis has now. (Do that many terrorists go through Indianapolis, or am I the only one?) First I faced forward, then to one side, while the X-ray bars spun round. I should have asked them to forward the results to my doctor.

And that still isn't the worst of it. Many years ago, I was stopped in Indianapolis because the underwire on my bra set off the metal detector. First the woman went over me with the wand, then she asked if I was wearing an underwire bra. I said "yes" and thought that was it, but it was not. She did not actually touch my breasts, but she patted down everything else. And then I had to roll down the waistband of my jeans so she could see there was nothing hidden there (I guess the denim had been too thick for her to figure this out when she felt around it 10 seconds earlier), so she got a look at my panties, too. In any other circumstances I would have expected a marriage proposal after we got to know each other so well.

So, the Indianapolis security is not my favourite. And now it's your turn: What "fun" experiences have you had at the airport?


Timbra Wiist said...

okay, you can delete this as soon as you read it, but there is ONE typo. . . i NEVER see typos, so i know you're careful "decided" either it needs to say "have decided" or "decide" depending on what tense you intended. . . .at the end of Chad's cheekyness paragraph. You were probably decidING while you wrote it and forgot to choose. Also. . . .HA HA HA HA HA HA. . . Susan, you are hilarious!!

Su said...

Ai yi yi... this is the trouble with too much revising; I always leave something goofy. Thanks!

And thanks about the hilarious part, too. :)

Grandpa said...

Hi Su, it was supposed to be an 'ordeal' right? But you made it sooo entertaining, no wonder you are a writer! I like the medical check-up and marriage proposal bit

And I wish Timbra would be so kind to come over to The Farm to proof read and correct my English as well - lots to go through though...

Su said...

Hee hee hee. Yeah, they make great stories after the fact. I'm hoping the x-ray machine cuts down on the need for full-body pat-downs in Indy, though. I was mortified at the time, but it's been long enough now for me to be amused.

There ya go, Timbra; a new gig for you! :)