T minus four days, and I'm preparing myself. I am terrified of flying. Just the thought of packing my bag makes me start sweating. On the car ride to the airport, I am a joking machine, using sarcasm as my weapon against fear. By the time I get on that plane, I am clutching my HP like it's my job (my childhood pink gingham pillow that I can't be without), and mentally preparing my will.
I've had some pretty traumatic airport experiences. In May, I flew home to see my sister get her master's degree. It was Mother's Day, and the airport was nearly empty. It sounds like that would be a good thing, little traffic and shorter lines. Quite the contrary. Instead, it provides the security people more time to rifle through your belongings and examine your tampons. Don't get me wrong, I think it's necessary to have extensive and careful security checks. But it feels pretty invasive to strip in front of them and watch the feverish dissection of your suitcase.
I took off my shoes, placed all of my items in the bins as instructed, and walked through the metal detector... undetected. I came out on the other side after the security agent fondled my aura with the magic wand, and began to collect my belongings from the bins. I saw the woman operating the conveyor belt send my purse through twice, frown, and motion for another security agent to join her. I stood patiently, wondering what the fuss was all about. I just KNOW I left my crackpipe at home, what could the problem be?
I bent awkwardly to put my shoes back on, trying not to knock anyone over in the process. A third security agent asked me to stand where I was. I complied, and other passengers filtered around me with their stupid happy, non-criminal families while I stood sheepishly with my dunce cap on. I assumed I was the lucky winner of a random search, and stood patiently while they pulled my purse off of the belt and notified me that they wanted to rifle through it. I watched as the contents of my lady bag were strewn about the table, like being shook upside down by a school bully. I wondered if the swirly was next.
The woman pulled out of my bag a gift I had purchased for my mom: a glass blowfish decoration, wrapped in bubble wrap so it wouldn't break in my bag. She looked at me and frowned, examining the fish. I smirked a bit, knowing what was in the package, waiting for her to join in my laughter. The feeling wasn't mutual. She asked me to go sit down while they rifled through the rest of my bag, and I sat and watched as the items scattered on the table one by one. To top it off, I was seated in the middle of the security station, forced to face all oncoming passengers with their smug, disapproving expressions coming through the line.
They held me at the security desk for over a half hour while they unwrapped my carefully packaged present. Like a group of gorillas over a wounded animal, they squaked and squeaked, frowned and wrinkled their brows, until they realized what they were looking at. As I suspected, they wrapped the present back up (not NEARLY as nicely as I had it packaged in the first place), and informed me that I could reassemble my bag. Seriously, do they have ANY idea how long we spend packing those bags? Stuffing and sitting and squishing the bag until you can JUST pull the zipper shut? I guess not. I reassembled my bag and was on my way, feeling slightly traumatized and a bit vulnerable as I made my way to the gate. I just hope that four days from now, the TSA agents are a little nicer to my purse when they send it through that x-ray machine.