I was in a fairly decent mood as I was heading to the airport. As much as I hate flying, I was looking forward to visiting with my friends and family in Indianapolis, most of whom I don’t get to see other than a visit around Christmas since I’ve moved to Seattle.
I’m also a seasoned professional. My ability to strip off my shoes and jacket, pull my lap top and baggie of liquids out and get them into trays on the security line is Olympic caliber.
Don’t line up behind families or anyone who looks tired or antsy if you wanna make it through quickly. Flash a smile and kill the TSA agents with kindness. I figure they have a rough enough job as it is.
And that typically works for me. Except once in Athens when I got my passport and ticket taken away and pulled into a back room, but that’s a story for a different day.
And that time in Atlanta I yelled at a man and almost started a riot by causing everyone else to yell at the same jerk in an hour plus long wait in the airport security line with no air conditioning in the middle of summer.
But I fly a lot so all things considered two out of hundreds of flights isn’t too bad, statistically speaking.
This day was no different. I rolled up early, pulled out all of the appropriate materials from my bag, and went through the body scanner, ready for them to give me the go ahead.
“Whoah,” the girl, who was likely about my age said as she looked at the screen behind me. I whipped around, and from my thighs up was lit up like a Christmas tree.
“It must be my sweater,” I said, as clearly my oversized, old woman sweater was the whole area that was glowing on the monitor. Trying to be as appeasing as I could, I said, “Listen, I’m wearing a tank top underneath, let me throw the sweater on the conveyor belt and go through again,” being as friendly as possible.
“That’s not how this works.”
“You’ve already gone through, we are going to have to pat you down. I’m going to have to feel around your breast area. Do you want to go into a back room?”
I’m happy to cooperate most days. I appreciate that their job is to keep everyone safe who flies. Also, that job would be the worst, so I tried to empathize. In my naive brain, throwing out the idea of walking through the scanner again and taking off the sweater would make both of our lives easier. I would not have to be violated, and this girl wouldn’t have to do the violating, something I’m confident would make me hate my life on a daily basis if I were her.
But when my idea was so readily shot down, and it was clear I was going to be subjected to a pat down, I was no longer feeling sympathetic and friendly.
“So would you rather go to a back room?” she asked again.
“Absolutely not,” I responded, thinking of how much worst the situation could get in a back room versus being felt up in public where at least I could have eye witnesses if something went horribly wrong.
So after getting publicly felt up on my “breast area” as it was referred to, she then informed me that she would have to feel in my waistband of my leggings and around my nether regions, so we would have to wait for her supervisor.
In a normal situation, my rage would get the best of me, but I didn’t want to invite a full body cavity search in retaliation, so I sat on my mouth and radiated rage. I could sense “Patty” as my aunt referred to her when I recounted this tale at a family get together a few days later, getting nervous as she looked around anxiously for her supervisor to show up.
She radioed for the supervisor again, and then had the audacity to try and make small talk with me.
“So are you heading someplace fun?”
“NO!” I said, resting bitch face in full effect as I was not having any of this shit.
Finally a second woman showed up and made me face the camera while Patty made me pull up my shirts so she could finish her business. When I pulled up my top and she saw my Spanx leggings, she goes, “Oh I didn’t realize those were high waisted.”
“Well they are Spanx and their purpose in life is to suck in my fat, but thanks for pointing that out to everyone in the airport as well.”
I wanted to know what she was searching for by just feeling around down south. If I was some kind of drug mule, wouldn’t it involve a little bit more than just patting around with the back of one’s hands? Luckily I kept this thought in my internal monologue, though I honestly didn’t see what could be found other than public humiliation.
Then after she swabbed my hands for bomb residue and gave me the all clear, I grabbed my bags off of the conveyor belt along with whatever dignity I had left, and headed toward my gate.
I waited to board the plane and dropped my phone face down on the ground, shattering the screen, therefore relying on only voice commands to Siri to text and call people until I got home, which was a particularly fun adventure during my layover in Denver when I had to call my mom to let her know my flight was running late.
“Siri, call mom.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know who your mom is. Could you be more specific?”
“Siri, you bitch, I swear to God, I am not in the mood for this bullshit today.”
I looked at the people in the airport walking around me, and noted that I needed to get to an area away from others while attempting to communicate with the outside world.
Eventually I called my mother, came up with a game plan, and was relieved when I landed at 1.30am and knew I would soon have some positive contact with the outside world other than Siri and Pat Down Patty.