Saturday, October 6, 2012

Do I look like a terrorist?

Public Enemy Number One?

I mean, really… Do I look like a terrorist?

I might look a little mischievous, but I hardly look like a freakin’ terrorist. And – yet – there must be something about me that screams “SEARCH ME, FRISK ME, TEST MY HANDS FOR EXPLOSIVES!” because that is what I got on every leg of my last trip.

You all know that I have a problem with authority figures. I don’t like anyone telling me what to do. That goes for both cops and TSA agents, just to name a couple of groups. (Though I’m sure Andris’ police officer husband is perfectly nice in real life.) I have a pretty high IQ and I’m a law abiding citizen. If you just leave me alone, we’ll all be happy. Don’t tell me what to do. Don’t get me all riled up, because it’s just going to be unpleasant for all of us.


You might remember a while back, my teenage son and my scientist and I were all headed out west to see my family.  For the most part, the trip was fine (if you consider being uninvited to your brother’s wedding fine… which I do – as I saw that particular wedding as more of a funeral than a wedding, but that’s another story for another day.)

We started our journey leaving the Raleigh-Durham airport. My son in a “Question Authority” T-shirt (yes, he’s my son), the scientist with his thick German accent, and me in a happy, sparkly shirt.

NOTE TO SELF – Do NOT wear happy, sparkly shirts through the security line. TSA agents don’t like happy, sparkly shirts and they’ll get out their “wands” and wave it over the sparkles and then haul your tush a few feet away so they can swab your hands for bomb making materials. I’m not even kidding. I couldn’t leave until the machine the swabs went into said I was "safe".

But THEN we were on our way to Chicago… where we misconnected and had to spend the night. I was fine with that, actually. It was a bonus night in a fabulous city we hadn’t planned on visiting. We took the train into town and had pizza with an amazing view of the Hancock Building out our window. Lemonade from lemons. That was my motto thus far. Lemonade from lemons.

I feel that lady's pain!
We woke up before the crack of dawn the next morning as the airline had scheduled us on a 6am flight. I was fine with that too. At least we’d make our final destination before noon. What I hadn’t counted on was an insane security line at 4-freakin’-30. (Yes, that is an actual time.) We stood in the blasted line so long we were in serious danger of missing our flight, something my teen kept reminding me of every 60 seconds. “We’re gonna miss our flight.” “Why is this line so freakin’ long?” “Why is that guy goin’ on break?!? We’re gonna miss our flight!” My nerves were on edge to say the very least.

At least this time I hadn’t worn a sparkly shirt, ‘cause heaven knows how TSA agents feel about THAT. No, this morning I had on a comfy maxi-dress that went down to my toes. But guess what? Yeah, that’s right… TSA agents don’t like maxi-dresses either.  The grumpy old guy (who could have been Methuselah’s great uncle) says “We gotta check this one out.” (Meaning ME).

I’m sorry… What?

“You could be hiding anything in that dress.”

Are you freakin’ kiddin’ me? I said, “I’ll happily take it off and go through naked if that would speed up the process.” Because – remember – we’re gonna miss our flight! (And I know that guy in Portland who stripped down to his birthday suit won in court against the SS…er…I mean the TSA. So I know the law is on my side in this).

“There’s no need for that attitude ma’am.”

Oh I beg to differ. There is EVERY need for my attitude, you sparkly-shirt-long-dress-hatin’-power-hungry-blankety-blank (In my head there weren’t blanks, but this is PG rated blog). 

“I’m going to miss my flight. I really will go through naked.”And I would have if this female TSA agent hadn’t showed up when she did.

She needed to pat me down. And she needed to explain everything she needed to do in excruciatingly slow detail. “Ok. I’m gonna run my hands over your bra.”

Fine. Just do it.

“Ok. Now I’m going to pat down your sides.”

Yeah, yeah, just hurry the heck up! 

“Ok. I’m going run my hands along the inside of your thighs.”

Just freakin’ molest me all ready, but hurry the heck up! I’m going to miss my freakin’ flight!!!!

You’d think after I went through the pat down I’d be done, but NOOOOO… I had to have my hands swabbed for bomb making materials.


I wish I was kidding. Apparently people who make bombs wear sparkly shirts and maxi-dresses. Who knew, right?

We ran to our gate, just as they were getting ready to shut the door. We barely made it. And there was absolutely NO reason for all of the stress. No reason except for sparkly-shirt-long-dress-hating-power-hungry-blankety-blanks!

To reduce our stress on our return trip, we got to the airport 3 hours before our flight. I didn’t have on a sparkly shirt or a long dress this time. Just jeans and a T-shirt, but once again – the TSA agents felt that I looked like the sort who makes explosives in my basement. Not my scowling teen. Not my very German scientist. Not anyone in line around us. Nope. Just me. So once again – my hands got swabbed and I had to wait until the all-knowing machine said I was “safe” to continue on to my gate. But at least we didn't have to run to the gate this time. 

Now don’t get me wrong… I want our skies to be safe and I don’t want another attack on this soil. BUT come on! We take off our shoes because one jerk tried something with his shoes. We have to pour out our water because one jerk tried something with liquid in a bottle. I just wonder which terrorist got caught in sparkly shirts and maxi-dresses.

I know you’ve got travel horror stories… because...Well who doesn’t? Tell me about your experiences flying the NOT-SO friendly skies. I hate to think I'm the only one who, apparently, looks like a terrorist.