Pat Down Flare-Ups

, , , , | Working | January 8, 2020

(My family always jokes with me about how I’m pulled over every single time I go through airport security. In the past, this has been for completely understandable things, usually because I am very forgetful and accidentally leave a bunch of batteries or my multitool in my carry-on. This time, however, I make absolutely sure to make my luggage as TSA-friendly as possible. As I’m going through the full-body scanner, it flags the metal clasps on the drawstring of my shorts. Naturally, this shows that the “contraband” is right next to my privates. I am pulled aside for a pat-down.)

TSA Agent #1: “Would you like a private pat-down?”

Me: “It’s four in the morning. Please just get it over with.”

(I know that was incredibly rude, but thankfully, the agent finds it funny. I am patted down and then let go, but my luggage is being searched. I don’t know what they think is in there, but after a couple of minutes of rifling through it, they hand it back to me without comment. I always get to the airport early but this delay leaves me barely enough time to get to my gate. Thankfully, I arrive at my destination and have a great trip. While I’m on vacation, I stock up on items for Christmas gifts, mostly spices that are not available in my home state. On the way through security, my bag is pulled aside.)

TSA Agent #2: “Ma’am, is this your bag?”

Me: “Yes?”

TSA Agent #2: *opening my suitcase* “Is there anything fragile or sharp that could harm me in here?”

Me: “Just a candle. And maybe those granite coasters.”

(I point out the items and he unwraps them carefully, as if handling a bomb. While he’s doing that, another agent comes over to pat me down.)

TSA Agent #3: “Would you like a private search?”

Me: “No, thank you.”

(She searches me, including reaching into the waistband of my shorts and under my breasts. I just stand there and bear it because I want this whole ordeal to be over with already. While she’s searching me, the other agent is picking through my bag. He’s picking out various handmade souvenirs and spices I bought at the local city market, which is known to be popular with tourists.)

TSA Agent #2: “Okay, ma’am, I’m going to have to do a full search. It looks like there are chemicals on the outside of this strawberry lemonade mix that correspond with chemicals commonly found in explosives.”

(I have no idea how that is possible, but it’s not like there’s anything I can do about it, so once my pat-down is finished and I’m good to go I sit down next to the desk to wait. The agent is now talking into a cell phone and describing a bag of coconut sugar I bought at a local spice store.)

TSA Agent #2: “It says sugar on the outside of the bag. The consistency is like sugar, but it has some clumps. I’m squeezing the clumps now… okay, the clumps are breaking similar to sugar. The crystals definitely bear a resemblance. The color is white… not bleach white, more like…”

Me: “Eggshell?”

TSA Agent #2: “Yeah, like eggshell white. Not like super white eggs, but not quite off-white.”

(He continues to describe the appearance of the sugar in great detail, until it is finally confirmed that it is, in fact, just sugar. Finally, he determines that I didn’t smuggle any explosives onto the plane in the form of handmade strawberry lemonade mix, and starts to put everything back in my suitcase.)

TSA Agent #2: “Coming from a wedding?”

Me: “What? No, they’re Christmas gifts.”

TSA Agent #2: “Oh. Because a lot of people give these things out as wedding favors.”

(Now I’m wondering 1.) what kind of couple can afford to give out a dozen bags of spices, coasters, a candle, and a flamingo made out of copper wire as favors, and 2.) if these are such common items, why go through all of the trouble to search my bag? I know they were just doing their job, and they were perfectly polite the whole time, but I found it ridiculous how much time and resources were wasted on this search, considering there are places where people have managed to smuggle actual firearms through airport security with no issue.)

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