I flew on the steely wings of a jet propelled airliner today. But, as we all know, before we are allowed to squeeze into their seats, we and our travel brethren all must be checked thoroughly for tomfoolery.
It is known as 'going through security.' Only after this process is complete will we be found either 'secure' or 'insecure'. I was looking forward to the verdict, as I truly don't know anymore.
There was no line at security this afternoon, a rarity to say the least. I walked right up to the seated employee checking boarding passes and he scanned mine on my phone. So far, so great.
The next obstacle, and the one in which provided the inspiration for this writing today, was of course, the carry-on x-ray scanner, and the hands-in-the-air-chamber of secrets. There are choices, at this point. Various lines to pick. A left and a right one. You can glance ahead of you and see which is moving,which is not, and then also pass judgement as to who you might think will hold up the line and more importantly, ruin your day.
Two lines to choose from. I went with the right one.
And henceforth, I chose the wrong one.
Immediate regret surfaced.
Here's the reason I knew: the gentleman behind the screen that X-rayed the carry-on's was laughing. He was laughing and he was pointing. Pointing at the screen. My temples flared. My armpits moistened.
To him, this had become a giggle fest. No professionalism today. The belt on which the items were placed was moving forward and backward while his grin ate shit. He was fiddling with the joystick.
It was too late for me to get out now, though, the little gray tray that held my money clip and watch and backpack and shoes and phone, that tray was already on the belt and moving fast. There was no going back. He pointed. He laughed. I sweated. I cursed.
Mind you, I wasn't late for my flight. I was actually two hours early. I was fine. But this, this incompetency, this was not fine.
My bag inched forward and I stepped into the full body scanner. Raised the arms. Imagined them finding something ghastly on my person. Some titanium in my crotch. Guess
that wouldn't be ghastly. Depends.
But my person was titanium-free and I stepped through the machine just in time to see the gent behind the X-ray screen smile some more and point some more.
At my bags.
What was this asshole doing? That's what he was, he was an asshole, I just knew it. He signaled for help and it came in the form of a tiny Asian woman. She smiled some more with him, what the hell was going on, and then she grabbed my plastic tray.
Whose was it, she asked. I stared a hole through her and I nodded slowly. Listen, I know you can't say anything to these people, anything off-color or off-putting, and I know they're just doing their job, but if their job now consisted of guffawing at the customers' items, well then I could pull an audible, too. And my audible was the stare down and slow head nod.
She took my backpack, unzipped it, and pulled out my National Geographic magazine and put it on top of the bag. At least I looked cultured to the masses already backing up behind me. She then sent it through the machine again.
Just had to check that magazine and make sure it was secure.
I looked at the masses behind me and pleaded for them to choose the other line. I did so with only eye flicks and eyebrow raises. They got it. One man threw himself out of a window.
We're not done, though. The X-ray gentleman smiled, pointed and then here comes the help again. The tiny woman grabbed my carry-on suitcase this time and asked whose it was. My eye lasers were so sharp they cut her hair.
She brought my suitcase over to a dumb metal table and asked me a series of questions. I was polite but kurt.
Meanwhile, my gray tray was passed through. Turns out, the Nat Geo mag was safe. I was worried. The line behind me breathed a sigh of relief.
Back at the metal table, my carry on was about to get the douching of a lifetime. The tiny Asian woman's blue- gloved hands unzipped the bag expertly and flung it open. Hey, airport, ya wanna see some dirty manties? It's your lucky day.
She began taking clothes out and actually unfolding them. She removed soles from shoes. Unrolled tank tops. She abused me.
She took my bathing kit apart and pulled out all the contents. All were under the allowed liter limit, mind you, and I told her as much. She nodded and said she needed to scan anyway.
I told her I wanted to scan her.
No, I didn't.
She rescanned my bag, with my manties hanging out, my disheveled shirts askew, my pants flopping about. My life exposed. My world upside down. I was wounded, this stung, but I would not be beaten.
The tiny Asian woman told me it was all clear to which I replied with an unaffected 'ok.'
She wanted to put everything back together for me but I told her I could take it from here. She had done enough, after all.
I don't know what happened after that, my mind raced to pack the bag just as I had in the first place. I barely had an hour and forty five minutes left before takeoff, which would leave me with barely enough time to look around aimlessly and judge people endlessly.
My bag, however, it was foreign to me now. Damaged goods. I contemplated throwing it in the trash.
It disgusted me.
I ended up keeping it.