Sunday, March 2, 2008

Security Meltdown

I'm currently in D.C., and my husband and baby are not. There's an annual conference out here that I love to attend, but when you have a baby no conference is as fun as being with your family. Alas, next week is Darrick's spring break, so he couldn't ask for 2 days off this week to come with. And my mom, who would have LOVED to have come along, couldn't take the days off either.

So, here I sit. Alone. Lonely. Boo freaking hoo.

It wouldn't be my first trip away from my baby without a story or two, so sit tight and prepare to be entertained by my Security Meltdown. Because, while it was decidely unfunny at the time, I can look back right now and laugh.

My flight out of Phoenix was set for 2:50 p.m., and I am one of those freaks who always has to be to the airport uber-early. So Darrick dropped me off at 1, and after crying off and on the whole way there, and then sobbing in the back seat as I kissed Luca good-bye, I moped inside and got in the baggage-check line. I had 3 bags: 1 large rolling suitcase in which I had shoes, clothes, and my pump; my laptop bag which also held a book for the plane ride and my wallet; and a small carry-on with some materials for the conference, my toiletries, make-up, and an extra set of clothes just in case. That second carry-on was rather heavy because of the materials I was brining along. As I waited in line, all I kept seeing was all these families with their cute babies and toddlers, and I felt SO sad about not taking my Sprout with me. I had to hold back the tears the whole way through. I finally made it to the front, checked my bag, and got my boarding pass.

I hopped on an elevator and went up to the next level to go through security. My bag was getting heavier by the minute, the wool peacoat my friend (love you, Crystal!) had loaned me was making my arm and back sweat, and I was stuck behind a cute family with their son, who was probably Luca's age. In other words: I was still miserable and biting back tears.

I finally get up front and load up my things to go through the conveyor. I remember to take my laptop out of its bag, remove my shoes, etc. I push my bins down the line, and see the coveyor stop...roll back...stop...roll forward...stop...and then a man lifts up my carry-on and asks whose it is. I raise my hand up, and he tells me they need to run it through again. "Sure." I respond. As he places it back on, I walk through the scanner without a hitch. On the other side, I go to grab my stuff, and notice a man holding the carry-on, TSA badge on display. He tells me they need to search the bag. "No problem.", I reply. I know what's in it, and I'm not worried.

So, over to the stainless steel table I go, shoes in hand, laptop still out of the bad. Mr. TSA makes some smart-ass comment about how heavy the bag is ("What's in here...frozen goods?") and I smile politely as I balance on one foot at a time to put the shoes back on. I'm still not worried. And then, he pulls my toiletries out of the bag. He looks at me. I smile back, unfazed. I know the rules, and every single item in there is regulation size...AND I packed them in the ziploc myself!

Or, perhaps I don't know the rules. Because he points to some hair product, and tells me it's too large. Annoyed, but not in the mood to cause a stir, I offer to just have him throw it away. He looks at me like I am a complete idiot.

TSA: "You know what's wrong here?"
Me: " mean, can we just toss that product?"
TSA: "This is a gallon ziploc."
Me: "Mmmm....?"
TSA: "You're premitted a quart ziploc."
Me: "Um, ok. But it's not"
TSA (opening my makeup bag now): "And this stuff puts you over the amount allowed."
Me: "Um...the only thing liquid in there is that (pointing to foundation) and it's less than 3.4 oz?"
TSA: "Yeah, but you have too much. It needs to fit in a quart bag. You are using a gallon bag."
Me (really getting annoyed at his ziploc fetish): "Ok. So, can you give me a quart bag so I can put the stuff in it?"
TSA: "They had them at the beginning of the line. You should have gotten one there."
Me: "Right. I would have except I didn't realize it mattered what size ziploc bag I used. So...can I just repack them?"
TSA: "I'm going to have to escort you out, and you can check this bag."
Me: "Oh.....I....."

And this, my friends, was the crowning moment of the day: I could feel my throat get thick and warm, and I knew what was coming. And I was standing there, like a bloody fool, saying to myself "Don't cry. Do NOT cry. DO NOT CRY." But despite my best efforts, I completely lost it. I started to cry, like a giant baby, standing there at that table talking about carry-on bags and travel shampoo and alloted ziploc volume. As I choked on my pathetic tears, I whimpered, "I'm sorry. I'm not crying because of this...I just left my daughter for the first time..."

Unfazed, Mr. TSA carried about his business of making a big fucking stink over my choice in ziploc bags. And he refused to make eye contact. And I tried to respond to his stupid mean blabbering, but I couldn't talk past the lump in my throat. It was then that he looked at me, as if he hadn't noticed the 2 minutes of crying that had just passed, and said: "What are YOU crying for? I'm doing all the work here."

I swear I whimpered. WHO says that kind of shit?!?! And so the tears burned down my cheeks silently, and I started to sweat as I panicked over who was watching this scene and what they were thinking. And the thoughts in my head were wild: I was sure Mr. TSA suspected me of some high form of treachery since I was not ONLY using GALLON FUCKING ZIPLOC BAGS, but also CRYING while HE was doing ALL THE WORK!

Silently, he zipped the bag back up and ushered me back to the other side of the security line, with orders to repack or check the bag. Not feeling up to dealing with repacking (because, really, at this point I either wanted to throw the damn bag at his mean, ugly head or just call my husband and have him come back and pick me up), I walked all the way back to the other end of the terminal and checked the damn bag.


Anonymous said...

Ohhh....... I'm so sorry. I cannot believe he said that to you though. Unbelievable! I ran into the SAME issue last year at the Columbus airport. The lady dragged me out of line and barked at me over the fact that I was using TOO MANY bags that were TOO SMALL. I told her I'm not going to run to the store to buy bigger bags, when what really mattered (or so I thought) was what I had in them and that they were the right size! It was a 10 minute ordeal while everyone stared. This year, I did the same thing and guess what? No one said a word. Hmm. Guess it was a bad day for TSA. Why don't we focus on what's really important people? You have nothing to be embarrassed about, I've seen so much worse happen at the airport. ((HUGS))

cupcake monkey said...

Oh no!!!!!!! Katie, I am so sorry!! :( What a jerk!!! I can see how looking back, this story is hilarious, but I think I would have lost it, had I been in your situation. I probably would have been escorted out of the airport!

Brandi said...

That guy was a JACKASS!!! Seriously. So NOT cool. I'm so sorry that you had to go through that. :(

Dear Diary... said...

Oh Kate!! :(
I hate when people try to act so hard that they can't even show a smidge of compassion, it breaks my heart!

Megan said...

I'm sorry Kate. The sad part is, this happens all the time. You aren't alone. I've seen plenty of mothers, old people, young people, etc. get the same kind of treatment. TSA basically means Thousdand of Standing Assholes. :(

Crystal said...

Oh Kates. This is a very sad story. I want to (A) apologize for lending you such a hot, heavy coat. And (B) tell you that I lost ALL my toiltetries on my honeymoon. In my rush to get to the airport on time, I accidently put my make-up in my carry-on bag and it was all too big. We didn't have time to go back and check my bag, we would have missed our flight. I cried too, and I wasn't even leaving my baby for the first time.

Lindsey J said...

Well, you're lucky I wasn't workin cause I would have slapped your goddamn cry baby FACE!!! Yeah. Thats right.


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