I wouldn’t call myself a nervous flyer, I’m more of a nervous airport go-er. Because airport security has a special way of making me feel like an international terrorist. Not on purpose, it’s not as if they’re eyeing me up and down with a couple of pitch forks. The majority of TSA agents that I’ve met were actually very nice. But they have a job to do, and they take it seriously. Which is a good thing, because if there’s anything that would make me a nervous flyer, it would be some crazy guy on my plane.
But – let’s be real here – if you think I know how to make a bomb out of a bottle of shampoo, you’re giving me too much credit. I write my own fashion blog and keep selfies saved on my phone, I’m not the kind of gal who would dump my salon-brand-argon-oil-no-frizz shampoo down the drain just to start concocting a missile. I’m way too vain for that.
But TSA figured, you know, better safe than sorry. Who knows? The next world renowned international terrorist could be a twenty-six year old girl from the Midwest traveling with fancy shampoo and wearing a Calvin Klein dress.
Because that was my real mistake. Wearing that dress to the airport. Who wears a dress to the airport? Beyonce?
“Hang on.” The guy on the other side of the metal detector stopped me as I tried to get past him to grab my bag. “Looks like we’ve got something here.”
Oh, great. For a second, I had that same feeling that you get when a cop is driving behind you. You know you haven’t done anything wrong… but who knows. Maybe you did. Maybe laws have changed and nobody told you. Maybe you’re a terrorist. Maybe you shouldn’t have packed that bottle of shampoo.
So I walked over to the female TSA agent who was supposed to “pat me down” to make sure that I wasn’t hiding a weapon. (Because there are all kinds of places to hide weapons in a dress that doesn’t have pockets.) “It’s probably just the buttons on your dress,” she assumed. “I’ll just do a quick pat down.” I’ve been through this before. I’ll forget to take off a necklace, or a belt, or a knife holstered to my thigh (just kidding). The pat downs don’t bother me, they’re always professional and I don’t get offended. TSA is just trying to do their job like everyone else. But this time, after she made sure I didn’t have a weapon or a bomb strapped to my body, she ran a piece of thin, paper-y film over my hands.
“What’s that?” I asked. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to the airport. I don’t know things.
“It’s to test for explosive substances.” She explained. I nodded. Like, oh, that’s cool. What a neat new way to catch bad guys.
It’s also a great way to catch those of us who use hand lotion or Germ-X. Which I learned quickly after the nice TSA agent said, “Okay,” very calmly, “It looks like our machine has detected something positive for explosive substances on your hands.” She might have said something else after this, but I wouldn’t know, because I laughed. I LAUGHED. At the TSA agent. Which is probably what all the terrorists do.
“We’ll need to go through your belongings.” She explained. “Is that okay?” I was still stuck on the ‘we found some explosive stuff on your hands’ part. I kind of thought she was joking. (Because TSA agents think jokes about explosives are really funny. Not.)
“Um. Okay.” I said, when I realized she was serious. Because, duh. What am I going to do, stand there and argue with her about the fact that I’m suddenly a suspect in the war on terror just because I used Germ-X before I got in line at security? It’s a phobia. Airports are germ-y. This is how I cope.
So I said, “Sure, that’s fine..” as I pointed out which bags were mine and watched two separate TSA agents slip on some gloves and have the opportunity of pinching through my mess of sunglasses, tissues, hand sanitize, Tide To-Go pens, gum wrappers, lip gloss, and other random crap that I never actually use, but insist on carrying around in my purse because “someday I might need it”.
Eventually the two agents put everything back where they’d found it. They were both females, and didn’t let on if they were judging me for having three different types of hand sanitizer in my purse. “Checked,” one of them said before looking over at me. “Come with me, please” she asked, and I was told to leave my purse and my laptop bag where they were. Just me and the TSA agent.
Great, I thought. They think I’m a terrorist. Can they arrest me for using hand sanitizer? So I followed the TSA agent behind a frosted screen in the far corner of the room and explained, “Yes, I’m traveling alone”, “I’m going to Atlanta”, “It’s a business trip”, “I can show you my business cards. They’re out there in that purse you just went through, maybe you saw them?”
“Okay,” she finally said. I’m sure they get used to it, but I can’t imagine it’s an easy job to tell someone you think they might be a terrorist without actually telling them ‘we think you might be a terrorist’. Talk about awkward. “I’m just going to do one more quick pat down,” she explained, “and then you’ll be free to go.” One more quick pat down, because apparently they really thought I was hiding under something that dress. TSA agents are well trained, they know when someone’s hiding something under their clothes. Just look at that dude who tried to smuggle a bomb in his underwear a few years ago. He’s been sentenced to life in prison.
She paused when she reached around the bottom of my dress. Have you ever been patted down in a dress before? It’s kind of awkward. Especially if you’re wearing Spanx.
Yes, I was wearing Spanx. There, I said it. I’m a sales rep who likes pizza, not a Victoria’s Secret model. Sometimes we have to wear Spanx. Especially when we’re wearing dresses and we want to look nice (read: not “slutty”, just “nice”. Like when your mom says “you look nice”.) I wanted to look like someone who was going on a business trip. And I also wanted to look skinny.
Whatever. We all have our deep, dark secrets. Mine is that I sometimes wear Spanx.
The TSA lady paused again when she felt the spandex-y part around my hip-thigh-area (the part designed to smash down your butt). Let’s face it, there are no secrets when it comes to TSA.
“Okay,” She nodded finally, finishing up with her job and taking a step back. “You’re free to go. Thank you.” Apparently I’m not the first person to wear Spanx to the airport.
I thanked her as well – I don’t know why, partially out of habit of good manners, and partially because I felt like we bonded when she didn’t embarrass me by mentioning the Spanx – and went on my way. Do you guys have any crazy/funny airport stories? Let’s hear them in the comments!