I was traveling back home from vacation in Branson, MO with my husband. Standing in the security line at the airport, I was decidedly not frustrated by the antics we air travelers have been required to go through since 9/11/2001: removing shoes, belts, hats, emptying pockets.
As I stood there, I thought back to that horrific day and why we do this. We had to come up with something. We had to reinvent travel. As I stood in solidarity with my country, I thought: They should have a poster up on the wall to remind people. And then I saw it: a black and white and gray poster of the two white beams shooting up into the night sky, the new memorial at ground zero. At the bottom of the poster, it read: “Never forget.”
I proceeded through the line, placed my things in bins, emptied my pockets, and walked into the booth. I assumed the stance: feet on feet, arms up and bent at the elbows as if under arrest.
“Ok, step out and stand here,” a male TSA instructed me pointing to yellow footprints on the floor. “She’ll be over in a minute,” he continued, indicating a female TSA nearby. Dave was still putting his things on the belt and walking through.
The female TSA approached me and said, “We found an alarm on you.”
“You did?!” I quickly self-scanned in my head, but I had removed anything metal. She pointed behind me to a small digital sign of a stick figure standing with arms raised, as if under arrest. There was a red mark in the crotch. Hmm, I thought. That doesn’t even look like me.
She then explained in rapid succession what she was going to do to me with her gloved hands. “I’ll start in the back, go down the outside of your legs, up the inside, then…” She rattled it off so fast, I couldn’t keep up.
When she was done, I said, “Inside my clothes?!”
“No-o-o-o!” she responded with the sarcastic tone of a sassy teenager. “Who are you traveling with?”
I pointed to my left behind me. “I’m with Dave, that guy there.”
“Is he laughing at you?” she asked.
“Probably,” I said.
They finally let me go after molesting me over my clothes. They never found anything because there was nothing to find.
We continued on toward our gate and had time to stop for lunch and a much needed drink. I had a Moscow Mule, which kicked in hard on an empty stomach before the panini caught up with it.
Later, at the gate, I texted my friend: “TSA found an alarm in my crotch and I’m not even wearing a thong!” It made sense to me at the time.