Flying the unfriendly skies
“Apparently, I look like a terrorist,” I called to tell husband-head.Husband-head was silent for a moment before answering.”Uh … you said it, I didn’t,” he responded candidly.I had come to that conclusion recently while on a trip flying out to see my family in South Carolina.It’s a lengthy journey because I live in rural Colorado and they live in rural South Carolina, so it takes an entire day – three flights and an hour’s drive on each end – to get there.And the travel gods were not nice to me on this particular trip.Thanks to the infamous Blizzard of 2006, the airline called to tell me my first flight to Denver had been canceled a little more than an hour before I was supposed to depart. They then informed me that I wouldn’t be able to get out for another two days.But I figured it was better to be stranded at home than in an airport.When I finally did leave, I carefully packed, adhering to the security regulations that prohibit taking any liquids or gels of more than 3 ounces and putting everything in a quart-sized plastic bag.
OK, so I CRAMMED everything into the plastic bag …”Ma’am, there’s a reason we have a limit to what you can take on the plane,” the nice security man said upon examining the plastic bag that wouldn’t stay closed.In my mind, it was none of his business why I needed to take 12 different colored lip glosses.Despite delayed flights to Chicago and then Savannah, I finally made it to my final destination.On my return flight home, yet another storm hit Denver and forced me to rearrange my travel plans.Again having to wait an extra two days to leave, I was awakened by a 4:15 a.m. wake-up call. Half asleep, I pulled on some clothes and headed to the airport to catch my 6 a.m. flight.”I’m sorry ma’am, but we have no record of you on this flight,” the nice ticket agent informed me. I almost slapped the nice ticket agent in the face.But we worked it out and with a half hour left before my flight LEFT – not boarded, LEFT – I ran to the security gate.
“Ma’am, you need to go to the double security gate,” the uniformed man told me at the counter.There I was, at the DOUBLE security gate, all by myself, as hundreds of other passengers went through the normal security checkpoint with no problem.I was on the verge of tears and looking at my watch when I yelled.”Would somebody PLEASE wait on me?” I begged. “I’m going to miss my flight!”Sure enough, three TSA people came over and whisked me into a private room.They then proceeded to rummage through my purse and my carry-on bag and treat me like a seasoned criminal.”THIS does not belong in the plastic bag, but THIS does!” the one guy said, pulling out a bar of soap and putting in a tube of mascara instead.I mournfully looked at my watch, knowing that there was no way I was going to make my flight on time.After going through a complete body pat-down – including the bottom of my feet – and having my bags ransacked, I was finally allowed to leave.
“Good LORD,” I swear I heard one TSA guy say to the other as I skulked away in shame. “Did you get a whiff of THAT? She may not have a bomb, but I’ll bet she kills everyone on board with the smell of her FEET!” I barely made it onto my flight as they were shutting the door.The strange part about the whole thing was that the last flight I took on my way to California just a couple of months prior, I was also pulled into the special security line.I reiterated my story to a fellow passenger on the flight home.”Well, you know, you DO kind of look like a terrorist,” he said as he studied my face intently.I responded by taking his Diet Pepsi and pouring it on his crotch.”Do I really look like a dangerous individual?” I asked husband-head when I finally got home that evening.”Ummm … no,” he replied. “But you do kind of get a terrorist look when the kitty litter box hasn’t been changed.”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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