Remember the uproar about the new xray scanners at airports that the TSA was slowly rolling out across the country 18 months or so ago? People were crying foul everywhere. The TSA was going too far. It’s an invasion of privacy. Of course being a free country, you could opt out but then you had to submit to a junk grope. What a way to fly friends, oh the choices…. allow some purvy purvyson in a room above getting to ogle your curves or some slimy slime touching you all over instead. Fuck you, Mister Shoe bomber and Mr Underwear bomber, Fuck you! It’s your fault we have to be demoralised before we can enter an aircraft. Shuffling through airport screening holding our pants up like a prisoner and barefoot like a slave.
I’ve been through it, a few times now but it never gets any nicer. It’s such an invasion of privacy. I find it repulsive actually. How do we know those people watching are behaving professionally? Treating us with respect and honour. Well I would bet you anything they don’t … You can’t tell me they’re not joking around, gaffawing like sweaty adolescents over a playboy magazine.
We have to put up with this crap. We have no choice. It sucks.
On a trip to Australia on my own, I fell victim…It never occurred to me that morning when I took a shower, the last one I’d have for 36 hours, that I would be treated like anything other than a lowly traveller being corralled and jostled through the airport. I lined up like all the other sheep, shoes in hand (flipflops of course) yoga pants and hoodie ( I’m a seasoned traveller. I wear no belts or shoes… and no jewellery.) Waiting patiently for my turn.
First the purse, then shoes and sweater and lastly the laptop and carry on bag head through the xray screening. Ignoring the huffs from behind because all this stuff needs 3 blue plastic tubs, I got to assume the position … for the first time… feet on the blue marks, look straight ahead, hands on your head.
Ew, that was gross. What can they really see? Anyway, it’s over, put the flipflops on, collect the stuff, let’shead to gate. I was making great time…. in my head, but then it happened….
‘Excuse me Madam, can you step aside please. Is this your bag?’ Of course your brain totally goes into overload… what the fuck is in my bag? I took my computer out. The ipad is off. What’s wrong?
And they don’t tell you anything, those TSA fucks, it’s part of their training… Don’t tell the passenger, hold them, annoy them, detain them, make them nervous and watch what happens. Standard procedure. Body language is a hard thing to control, reading it is part of their job. If you’re smuggling a bomb up your arse you’re already fucked so being detained is just making your butt hole twitch cos your plane won’t wait.
They inform me they want to put a bag back through, it’s a stall tactic but they’re in charge. Then they ask me what time my flight is. I ask a few more questions which they evade expertly, now I’m worried. Why are they holding me? The radio contact begins, then they tell me they’re waiting for another agent. Holy Moly….. What’s going on? Waiting for another agent? You can just imagine my panic beginning to rise. At this point I should add this is my first solo trip home…… ever. I am totally alone, at the mercy of the TSA. I feel sick all over again, just recalling the story or maybe that’s the ice cream I just had before dinner……Hard to tell.
Eventually, after what felt like hours but was really about 15 minutes a female agent turns up and they escort me to the little room. The little ROOM! That’s it I’m dead. I’m not gonna make the flight. I can’t call the King. I’m so going to jail for some trumped up something. OMG……
Of course I’m internalising all of this while remaining totally calm on the outside cos you just don’t piss the TSA off, they are little dicks with BIG powers.
They close me into the opaque glass cubicle off to the side of the screening area.
They explain to me that they saw something and they will now need to proceed to search me. One large woman blocks the exit in case I try to bolt. Like I’m gonna take that 300lbs on… I don’t think so. The TSA lady in charge asks me to remove my top and she wants to search my bra. WTF? It’s a bra, sure I’ve used them to store all manner of things over the years. Money, dummies (pacifiers) for the baby, car keys, phones….. ok they may have a point. But this day I was carrying nothing but boobage. So she has a good old grope. Nice, not even a drink first, it is almost cocktail hour, it’s the least they can do… All clear naturally because I told them I was only packing boobage. Then they go further and ask all sorts of deeply personal questions. Extremely inappropriate for lunchtime in an airport. But I’ve had kids, I’ve been poked before, so I’ll play your fucking game. ‘I’m sorry ma’am but the xray showed something in your underwear, are you on your period? ‘ OH MY GOD!
My mind is reeling by this point, how can this be happening? What are they gonna do now? Think woman what do you do ? So I said the first thing that came to mind. ‘Um yes’.
I wasn’t at all but if I didn’t want Mrs 300lbs elbow deep inside me, I was gonna make damn sure it was an undesirable option for them too.
The fact is I was just flying that day, for 20 hours, without a shower and I’ve had babies and I have weak pelvic muscles and sneezing isn’t my friend.
Ok I’ll tell you, we’re all friends here, I was wearing a pantyliner, an average, common, store bought pantyliner. Can you imagine it? I’m in my bra and yoga pants in the middle of the fucking airport narrowly avoiding a cavity search from Bubba Gump’s sister because I have weak pelvic floor muscles. It’s abhorrent. Utterly disgusting. They thought I was smuggling something in my bra and panties because I had a padded bra and a pantyliner… You fucking arseholes THAT’S JUST KIDS!
And then it was over, that was it, just like that!
They said ‘Thank you Ma’am, you can go.’
I was shocked…. what, no cigarette? No explanation, no apology, nothing.
So I did what any normal, just violated woman would do, I put my clothes back on, gathered my wits and my possessions and went to my gate lounge. Horrified, but safe and ready for my flight.
How many women must go through this same embarrassment? Persecuted for saggy boobs and leaky woosas. Unacceptable and very bad form. It must stop.
Last week I heard a news report that all the xray machine were being removed from airports. Finally some sense. The Civil libertarians get a win this time. And it’s the right thing. It’s too invasive and nobody should be subjected to what I went through. By the time I fly next they’ll be gone and we’ll be back to metal detectors and pat downs. And I not ashamed to say that works for my padded bra, pantyliner and me.
Happy Air Travel America.
Have you ever had an airport xray experience? Please share, I know I’m not the only one.