As luck would have it, our return flight to Los Angeles was the Tuesday after the death of Osama bin Laden the previous Sunday. We knew that the Miami Airport would be on high-alert and all airport routines would be met with an increased diligence. We allowed ourselves extra time and did not begrudge the slow pace of the TSA’s (Transportation Security Administration) conscientious attention to detail.
As we approached airport security to our airline’s gate we were greeted with the obligatory commands to remove our jackets, belts, shoes, and everything from our pockets. Ordered to place those items in the plastic bin and our carry-on bags (for ease of transit in the airport, consider wheeled carry-on luggage) on the conveyor belt, we obliged.
I dashed through the metal detector with “jazz-hands,” standing momentarily on the painted yellow footprints and up against the screen. I can only imagine the sights the agent at the monitor must see on his passing parade of travelers: under-wire bras, dental bridges, safety-pinned underwear, and who knows what else. I thought it was metal objects that were illuminated and was not concerned, nor embarrassed, as I waited for my husband to pass through. In retrospect, I think if I were a young teenage girl the drill would have been profoundly humiliating.
After breezing through the screening process and collecting my carry-on (see Samsonite Xspace 21.5″ Expandable Spinner),I was seated on a nearby bench putting on my shoes when I noticed my husband was requested to return through the metal detector.
As I watched, two TSA agents escorted him behind privacy screens. The larger of the agents, wearing rubber gloves appeared again from behind the screen and put something into a machine and quickly returned . The second agent came out, looked at me and smiled announcing “he’s clean.”
“Well,” I gasped, . . . “I knew that,” I responded loud enough for all the bystanders to hear.
“What the hell just happened?” I asked, when my husband appeared.
He shrugged, “I just got felt-up. If this were Massachusetts, I think that guy and I could get married,” he quipped.
“What!?” I shouted.
“He kept asking me what I had in my groin.”
“Well,” I sighed, “just what, exactly, did you have in your groin?”
“Altoids? . . . in your groin?”
“I had two Altoids in my right-front pocket,” he unabashedly confessed.
“And, why did you have two breath-mints in your pocket?
Why didn’t you take everything out of your pockets as instructed?” I felt like I was talking to a child.
“They were loose,” he explained, “and I did not want to put it in the bin where people put their shoes. I didn’t think Altoids would show up in the scan, but the agent said it’s not an x-ray machine, it’s a full body scanner.”
“So, the TSA agents just thought you were smuggling drugs,” I reasoned.
“Explosives,” he corrected me.
I guess I feel safer.