And Then I Danced With The TSA
This weekend I arrived early at an airport to climb on my fourteenth airplane of the year so I could head home to the now all too familiar San Francisco International Airport.
In twelve of the first thirteen flights of this year, things have gone very smoothly. One was a bit rocky, but could have been much worse.
Then came flight number fourteen. I suppose it was just my turn.
I stepped up to the security line and pfft’ed at the amateurs around me. Before I even got to the steel table and the plastic bins, I had shoes off, laptop out and a determined look in my face.
As in, this is not my first rodeo.
I stood in line kibitzing with friends. I shoved my bins forward into the tube and awaited further direction. This airport was using both metal detector and backscatter and the TSA agent was alternating the line. One to metal, one to xray. One to metal, one to xray.
I was directed to xray. With a sigh, I took my spot and waited. Then I was waved into the machine and I assumed the position. Feet spread, arms up over my head with elbows bent. Fingers spread.
Did I mention this is not my first rodeo?
I waited. And waited. And thought “damn, the backscatter at SFO is a quick one. This one is taking an eternity.”
Finally the TSA agent waved me out of the machine and pointed to a rug with the outline of two feet. That’s where you stand and wait for the agent to hear from The Someone in the backroom reviewing scans and reporting back.
So I waited. And waited. The TSA agent kept saying into her radio “Do you have a scan for a female? Results of scan. Results of scan, please.”
Nothing. Seems her radio was busted. So she asked her counterpart. He called it in. Three people had already come through the backscatter and given the all clear. Seems that certain Someone didn’t have my scan.
The female TSA agent said, “ok, let’s send her back in” pointing to the backscatter machine and I nodded. I was ok with that.
The male TSA agent said, “No, she left the machine and she can’t go back in.”
“I’m sorry ma’am, we’re going to have to give you a pat down,” I was informed.
I sighed, nodded and raised my arms. “Ok, let’s do it,” I said.
“You can put your arms down, I have to call for an assist.”
So I waited and waited and waited for the pat down lady to come give me a good fondle.
“Do you want a private room?”
“I will run my hands all the way up and down your legs, between and under your breasts, in the back of your shirt, in the waistband of your pants and in some sensitive areas. Do you understand?”
“Ok, let’s get started.”
And so the blue uniformed woman got frightfully intimate with me right there in the security area, and I let her. I felt mildly dirty but to be honest, this was not my first pat down. Turns out when you wear a flowy skirt sometimes the backscatter can’t see you so well and they pat you down anyway. It’s why I wear pants to travel these days (even though skirts are way more comfy).
“There, that wasn’t so bad was it? Now I just need to test my gloves. Wait here please.”
And so I waited and waited and waited and I heard “uh oh.”
I turned to see another TSA agent say to my new girlfriend, “You got an alarm.”
“It’s these gloves again, I swear this is crazy!” she replied.
Oh those pesky, pesky gloves. Silly gloves. Naughty gloves giving off an alarm meant…
Every item in my possession had to be wiped and scanned. Everything, including the Hello Kitty popsicle mold I’d bought there at the airport (a gift for a friend’s toddler).
None gave off an alarm, but I wasn’t finished yet.
I was then invited into the private room. Was this like the champagne room at a strip club? Only I’m the dancer? I hoped to make some killer tips off of this routine.
This time not one but two female TSA agents came along for the fun. I got to keep my clothes on, but they felt me up real, real good.
Let’s just say…they were quite vigorously able to confirm that I was in fact NOT the next underwear bomber.
After this mauling, I was set free to move about the airport.
I reported to my friends that I needed a Silkwood shower and maybe a Cinnabon to get through the trauma.
We opted instead for a TCBY non-fat yogurt cup. Amazing what sugar can do to make you feel better about this mean old world.
To be fair, it could have been much worse. I had plenty of time before my flight and I was very cooperative with the TSA agents, which meant they were very cooperative with me.
But I just can’t get past the fact that I had to be mauled, molested and detained because their radio malfunctioned and their backscatter machinery burped and their gloves are known to set off alarms and yet they keep using them.
I was just trying to get back home.
Before this crazy ol’ year is over, I have two more planes to ride. May those trips go as smoothly as twelve of my fourteen flights thus far.
Waltzing with the TSA sure was fun, but I think I’m over it.
Image from Toonsville.