Airport security can be torturous
“Why are you dissecting your purse?” husband-head asked curiously, looking at its contents strewn all over the kitchen counter.”I’m cleaning it out before we get to the airport,” I informed him. “I don’t want them taking my stuff at the security checkpoint.” In keeping with the heightened restrictions now in place, I dutifully removed my lip gloss, lighter and lotion.”There,” I said when I was done combing through the contents. “They certainly won’t be pulling ME aside for any suspicious objects.”My friend Kimberly and I were flying to California together for a short trip to the Sacramento area. Once there, we were parting ways, but we’d arranged to travel together there and back.We arrived at the airport in plenty of time, checked our bags and proceeded to the security checkpoint where we moved through the line along with all the other cattle.That was, until a nice Transportation Security Administration (TSA) person tapped us on the shoulder and told us to go to a different line.Because the TSA people have about as good a sense of humor as the guards at Buckingham Palace, we did as we were told without asking any questions.There was no one else in this particular line, so at first I thought we were getting preferential treatment.But it turned out that this was the line to go through the bomb-scanning machine.”Stand in the booth and hold your shirt down,” the TSA person instructed Kimberly.I stood behind her laughing that at least they hadn’t asked her to pull her shirt UP.But nothing happened.So then they called in another TSA person, who proceeded to take 20 minutes to wipe down and clean the whole machine, which they might have thought of BEFORE yanking us out of line.”Why did we get pulled into this line in the first place when everyone else is going through THOSE lines?” I hissed to Kimberly. “I think it’s because your T-shirt says ‘Sturgis’ and you look like a motorcycle babe.””No, I don’t think that’s it,” Kimberly denied. “I think it’s because of your hair.”Yes, I’d thrown my hair up on top of my head with a clip, but I didn’t think it looked dangerous.At last, Kimberly was allowed to go into the porta-potty-looking device and was then instructed to remove her shoes as soon as she exited.I was next.After standing there for a few seconds – and holding my shirt down as instructed – multiple puffs of air shot out at me like a big glaucoma test and I screamed in surprise just like I do at the eye doctor’s.Then while Kimberly had her purse ransacked by the nice TSA people, I had to succumb to a body search.They waved their wand on the bottom of my feet, which, embarrassingly enough, were, umm, not clean.”That’s a scar from a Plantar’s Wart I had when I was 10,” I tried to explain, hoping they didn’t think the callous was a bomb.The search continued up and down my legs, my torso and my arms. I am wearing, at this point, only underwear, jeans and a tank top. Short of being naked, there wasn’t a whole lot to search.Then they began waving the wand around my head and patting it.”You might find a lot of things in there, but explosives won’t be one of them,” I joked.The TSA person did not find that funny.We were finally deemed to be safe passengers and released from the security checkpoint.In Phoenix, where we changed planes, we had another episode in which our airline switched our boarding gates four times, causing us to scurry back and forth between gates that were a half mile apart and nearly miss the connection.”You GO girl!” I screamed to Kimberly who was racing ahead of me with the “Chariots of Fire” music playing in the background.Sweaty and disheveled, we finally made it to Sacramento without a lip gloss, lighter or lotion.Heidi Rice is a staff reporter for the Post Independent. Her column runs every Friday. Visit her Web site at http://www.heidirice.com.
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