27 November 2016

Dressed for Terrorism?

Security lines are the harsh reality of the 21st century travel experience.  Everyone has a story; most all of us can relate. Today, for once, my mood was very good; my expectations high. Generally, I face the dehumanizing necessities of airports, not stoically but, hypnotically. I rather automatically enter a trance-like state, possibly similar to the mindset of a low-security institutional prisoner. 

With perfectly measured civility, I follow the rules: que-up, inch forward, present travel documents, hand-over any checked luggage. Then, repeat the process in the security line while additionally removing any items of clothing, jewelry, ornamentation and footwear. (Dear God, I once had a brain 💨and wore barefoot sandals; requiring me to make actual physical contact with the airport tiles. I shudder.)

But, today I approached the numbing process with a slight smile, a touch of optimism. I'd been granted Pre-Check status. The free-falling wonder of short lines, less security. Keeping my shoes (with thick socks) on my feet. 

I must interject here that of late I've mostly flown no-frills domestic airlines. Flights between our home city and the one closest to our flat, and to our son's family. So, there's been no opportunity to officially sign-up for Pre-Check privileges. 

On arrival at Terminal 3, while mostly sailing through the various stations of air travel, I soon hit a wall. An impermeable, but gracious TSA barricade. 

My stroll through the non-sterilizing, screening machine lit-up the thing like a proverbial Christmas tree. 'Tis the season and all, but these twinkle lights were quite puzzling and somewhat noisy.

I'm a seasoned traveler. I'd foregone wearing a watch, bracelets, or a belt. In fact I was wearing a brand new, rather understated but tasteful set of casual- (or, athletic-) wear. No zippers, studs, brass buttons. No bells, no whistles. 

The potentially sterilizing, full-body, hands-up, X-ray machine also lit-up like a pinball machine. 

So... I was gently frisked. My hands and shoes were wiped and analyzed. Apparently, all tests ran positive. My personal items were searched, further wiped, re-screened, and eventually handed-out of the contamination zone to my ever-patient husband. 

A friendly and chatty TSA agent led me to a side room, where we waited a few minutes for occupancy. I was again frisked. And, wiped and analyzed. 

Three TSA agents conferred. Finally, with sincere apologies and a touch of befuddlement, I was sent on my way. 

So much for breezing through security today. 20 minutes can be devastating with close connections. But, CA and I had been packed and ready, and we'd called Uber quite early--always preferring extra time at the airport to a frenzied last minute arrival. 

Excuse me while I practice my hypnotic, trance-like travel state. Zoning out...

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