We were on target: an uneventful ride to the airport, carry-on bags intact, and our arrival was well before departure. I grinned. I could do this. My husband checked us in at the desk and purchased the tickets for our Miniature Schnauzer, who was in her carrier, small enough to ride at our feet during the flight. As we walked to security, we pulled out our passport cards, which let us use the TSA PreCheck line. (No removal of laptops, shoes, sneakers, jackets, or jewelry.) Having done this many times before without incident, I was still grinning, that is until I walked through the checkpoint and an alarm went off.
Although surprised because it never happened before, I noticed they chose others too.
One woman said, “I have an artificial hip.”
Another said, “I have an artificial knee.”
One more said, “I have pins in me.”
I sucked in air. Well, hell, I didn’t have an artificial anything.
…Uh-oh. Not good.
I was told I had to go into the x-ray machine, widen my stance, and raise my arms to be checked out. No problem, just a minor blip on my (pardon the pun) travel radar screen.
The alarm went off again.
The female TSA agent smiled at me. “I’ll have to wand you, Ma’am.”
“No problem,” I said, still smiling, stepping over to another area she directed me to.
She ran the wand all over me then wiped my hands. The warning had gone off…again.
I looked at the TSA agent, my smile waning, as was hers.
She tsked, shaking her head.
My smile vanished. “What?” I asked, trying to muster up another smile.
“Ma’am, I’m going to have to pat you down. You know, it might be your cute little jacket with all those decorative zippers that are causing the problem,” she said then explained exactly how thorough she planned to pat me down.
Hey, wait a minute. I didn’t know her that well.
I silently cursed my stupidity for wearing it. “No problem. Should I take my jacket off?”
“No, Ma’am, that won’t be necessary. Just widen your stance again and raise your arms.”
Meanwhile, my husband and dog were already waiting for me with my purse and luggage at, what I like to call, the finish line, frowning. I was lucky he was there guarding it all.
After the pat down, she then took what looked like a wet wipe and wiped my palms. She then ran it in front of a small security scanner and guess what? That damn alarm went off, spewing a printout. A few more security agents gave me the eye. Meanwhile, all the older women behind me were long gone.
I sighed, not liking where all this was heading. “What now?” I asked the TSA agent.
She consulted with another agent. Apparently there was a chemical agent on my hands.
She then walked me over to my purse and luggage. “Sir,” she said to my husband. “Can you place her things on this counter so I can check them?” She turned to me. “Oh, I need your sneakers too. Do I have your permission to go through your things?”
I wanted out. I gestured toward them. “Go for it!” I said, gritting my teeth, smiling.
She then opened my laptop.
“Please be careful,” I said, even though it was backed up on the cloud and my flash drive.
She gave me the eye.
“I’m an author,” I said. “All my books, plus my new one are on it.”
She smiled, “What kind of Author?”
“I write mysteries. Eleven so far.”
She smiled broadly then went on about a man she knew who also wrote mysteries, while she searched everything. Were we bonding? I smiled, listening and nodding. Maybe I knew him. Afterward, she ran another wet wipe inside my luggage, sneakers, and purse.
She then ran a wet wipe along the upper and palm sides of my hands.
That damn alarm went off again.
“Ma’am, I’m going to have to give you a more thorough hand pat down. Would you like to step into a private room?”
I forced another smile. “I’ll stay right here,” (near my husband), having visions of never coming out of ‘that’ room.
“Ma’am raise your arms for me and widen you stance.” She then proceeded to explain why she was touching this place and that place. “Is that okay with you?” she repeated.
My husband said, “I’m jealous. She doesn’t let me do that in the airport,” he said.”
The TSA agent and I gave him the evil eye. Men…
She then continued checking all my curves and angles.
Midway, I swiveled my head to her and joked, “You know, I expect a ring after all this.”
She laughed. She really was trying her best to be nice and polite. She was just doing her job. It was the machine I had evil intentions toward.
Finally, she said somewhat mystified, “Nothing.”
She then reached for another wet wipe and swabbed my hands, and this time, my neck. The machine gave her another read-out of a chemical substance. We were at a standoff.
She eyed me again, thinking. “Did you put on body lotion this morning?”
I nodded. “All over my body, like usual, why?”
“That must be it. There’s a chemical in your lotion. You can go.”
I stood there. Was she playing me? “…I can go?”
I was free!
“Thank you!” I said, snatching my sneakers, as my husband took my purse and luggage. Originally, we had 2 ½ hours before boarding. We were now down to thirty minutes.
I felt thoroughly violated and jubilant simultaneously, already plotting in my head how I could add this to my next book in my Samantha Jamison Mystery Series.
This scenario was right up Sam’s alley. Her sleuthing cohorts would have a ball with this.
Was I turning into Sam, or was Sam turning into me? I shrugged. Either way, I was using this event to my benefit. I continued on toward our gate. Boarding the plane would be a piece of cake, right?
I should have known better…
Stay tuned for part 2: Tomato Juice w/a Twist of Lime, Please!
Remember, everyday is a blessing. Don’t take them for granted!