I have not flown recently, but did have cause to do so his past weekend. My brother, Rick and I flew to Gainesville, Florida to attend the Gator Nationals Drag Races with another brother Bob, my nephew David and his son William. The drags were an awesome experience for Kaisers 3G. My experiences with Airport Security…not quite so awesome, yet a bit jaw-dropping nonetheless.
My first stop was at Detroit Metro. Literally a STOP at security. “Sir, GO BACK …and give your water to that guard”. What…water? A clear liquid in a clear plastic bottle with the cap securely in place? Like I said, it’s been a long time since I flew out of anywhere except maybe a football stadium to catch a bus in a driving rain storm.
Bottled water NO. Belt off. But I still got Beeped. What set it off?… did it find my cobalt heart stent multiple times as I stopped and twisted a bit in the arch. Hey, he asked me a question that surprised me. You wouldn’t expect me to be rude and keep walking would you. When he exiled me to a sound proof booth, I began to wonder if the cobalt somehow became radioactive. Definitely, that would have made it a bomb threat even if only, categorically, a 3 mm pipe bomb.
Regardless of what set off the alarm, I am now a suspect. Soon another security guard released me from my cell. She took me aside and swabbed my hands. She stuck the swab into a machine for scanning. Very relieved that nothing radioactive showed up. But then, they were scanning for gun-shot-residue. I suppose there is some logic to random testing for GSR in Detroit—but why me. I was clean shaven, neatly dressed and standing upright. Rick was the one with whiskers and slouched over. Oh, wait…that wasn’t a slouch. He was doubled over in laughter at my plight.
I think he enjoyed my overly-secure check-in at Detroit, that he set me up on the return flight from Gainesville. He scurried through that checkpoint without having to take his belt off. I was a bit delayed by the first gate guard checking my ticket and ID…he noticed the same last name and needed to double check my DNA, I guess.
Anyway, when I got to the metal detector, the security guard stated I needed to put my belt in the basket. ( I didn’t do that at DTW and I think Rick thought he would catch me in Gainesville) I told the guard I had already done that. Then he told me to take off my shoes. I looked at the smirking brother on the other side of the Plexiglas wall still shod in his shoes. I mentioned that my brother didn’t have to remove his shoes, so why must I.
He succinctly answered that he had the right to conduct any security check he saw fit. Dutifully, I took my shoes over to the conveyor belt.
Arriving back at the security guard, he advised me to step into the capsule. Not an archway…a “beam me up, Scotty” capsule. Inside, he clearly stated I needed to take EVERYTHING out of my pockets. I assured him I had put it all on the conveyor. He motioned to my hands; “Hand out, too”.
Though my brother was making it difficult to repress laughter, I replied to the guard. “With no intended disrespect to you or your position, if I remove my hands from my pockets, my pants will surely drop.”
His stern look caused me to quickly draw my hands from their pocket holsters. With a splendid “quick draw move” I put a hammer lock on my the side belt loops. The stern look immediately scrunched to a scowl; “Hands up, please”. To keep my britches from slinking downward, I assumed the stance of a bowlegged cowpoke as I raised my hands as the marshal had ordered.
Not that my troubles with security at Gainesville delayed the flight, it did not get to Atlanta “on time”. There was some concern for the time it could take from the far reaches of D wing of the terminal to an A wing departure site. I’m glad they had a speedy train to get us there in plenty of time. Go figure, needing a train in an air terminal.
Anyway, we did get to the departure gate in plenty of time. In fact, we were in time for the comedy routine of: “But, ONLY one carry-on and one personal bag does not apply to blondes, does it?”
She stuffed…squeezed…and crammed with utterances of “I don’t believe they are making me do this”. To no avail. She couldn’t get two “excess bags” into her maxed out hard-side carry-on. The over-the-limit bags consisted of a fabric shopping bag which could easily double for a deluxe knitting bag with sufficient skeins of yarn to keep an Eskimo family warm, and a box she apparently thought she could hide under her armpit yet could have held two Big Macs, fries and a chocolate shake. Okay, so maybe not the shake ’cause it would have oozed out at the corners.
Now, most people would consider a woman’s handbag a “personal item”. But hers was a stretch for my imagination. First of all, it was large enough to hold both my carry-on bag AND my “personal item”. However, it was already packed so tightly that she would have had to eat both Big Macs and the fries (if that’s what was in the box) as there was no room left in her handbag. And IF she did have a shake, she might have been able to pour it into her personal bag, but the cup surely would not fit.
In the end, she somehow managed to smash the box into her carry-on then sit on the hard-top luggage while securing the latches. Considering my estimation of the potential energy stored in that carry-on, if one of the latches failed during the flight, the pilot might have thought someone had gotten a bomb past security.
As for the knitting bag-purse dilemma…colorful. Somehow she had managed to persuade the gate attendants that the two bags were sufficiently “nested” to be considered as “1 personal bag”. She was the last person to get on board the plane. As she came down the aisle with her teetering stack of baggage, I felt an urge to applaud. Hey, I’ve clapped for circus clowns who have balanced that much paraphernalia without stumbling.
I never thought security checks could be so much fun.