In which I am flagged as a potential terrorist.Posted by Donna Freedman on Jan 9, 2014 | 25 comments
I’m writing this from Sky Harbor in Phoenix, which touts itself as the “friendliest” airport. Certainly this is true of its TSA agents, one of whom got to second base with me without even buying me dinner.
Of course, she was just doing her job. An alarm sounded when I went through security. A quick glance at the monitor showed the word “explosives.”
A couple of agents moved in with a gait that was both casual and swift, if that makes any sense. It was a “hey, everything’s fine” crossed with “holy crap, that woman might be packing.”
Hint: I wasn’t.
But rules are rules, so I had to go through several levels of safety checks.
First, an agent swabbed my hands. That should do it, I figured. Explosives? Really?
Nope. Another agent removed all my belongings from the conveyor and used a Teflon strip coated with some kind of magic explosives-detecting solution. Meanwhile, I stood there beet-red with embarrassment – and keeping my hands where the agents could see them.
Widening my stance
The agent asked if I’d used any lotions or creams today. Well, yeah: some Cetaphil on my face and a little Aveeno on my hands. He explained that any product containing glycerin can trigger a false positive. You know, as in nitroglycerin.
I don’t know what those Teflon strips whispered in his ear, but I expect it was “Keep an eye on that one.” That’s because I was sent to the dreaded third level of security: the Special Patdown.
The two female agents who attended to me were polite and professional but let’s face it: They probably wanted to do the patdown about as much as I wanted to receive it. (See “second base,” above.) I stood where they told me to stand, lifted my arms when asked, widened my stance on request.
More to the point, I kept my mouth shut. What good would ranting have done? They probably hear enough of that all day long. Besides, I didn’t want to fail the attitude test – for all I know, cavity searches are optional add-ons.
No matter what you think of the TSA (and apparently plenty of us don’t think much of that agency) the agents did their jobs as quickly and courteously as they could. Yes, I’m a geeky mid-50s Caucasian woman. But any race, any age and either sex can deliver mayhem. The experience reinforced my personal belief that all middle-aged women are terrorists – or could be.