“Random” Passenger

I used to love flying, back in the days when I could throw everything I needed into a carry-on bag and board the plane without getting hassled about my shampoo bottle or *gasp* my jackknife.  Back in the days when they still made airplane seats to fit normal adults instead of emaciated waifs with abnormally short legs.  Back in the days when they still served actual food on board.

Remember how we used to joke about airline food?  Well, the joke’s on us.  If we had known back then that today’s “airline food” would be ten mini-pretzels and half a cup of pop, we’d have shut up and reveled in our good fortune.

And don’t even get me started about security… oh, wait; I’m already started.  Hang on, ’cause here we go.

So you know how the security scanner automatically selects some poor schmuck random passenger for groping and harassment “additional screening measures”?  News flash:  It ain’t random.  It’s specially calibrated to go off like fireworks every… single… time… I pass through it.

Usually it’s not too big a deal, because I always strip to the point of marginal decency before I go through the scanner anyway.  When the inevitable lights and sirens start up, I assume the position, they search/swab/manhandle any luggage item and/or body part that catches their fancy, and then I get re-dressed and carry on.

But last week I got extra-special treatment.  The scanner went off and I assumed the position as usual.  The screening agent must have really liked me, because I received a particularly thorough pat-down – she should have given me flowers afterward; or at least a nice kiss.  I don’t know why it’s supposed to be less ‘sexual’ to get your PTA (pussy/tits/ass) squeezed and fondled by the backs of the agent’s hands instead of their palms; but maybe I’ve just been away from the dating scene for too long.

Anyhow, after my X-rated interlude I figured I’d be good to go… but I was wrong.  The explosives scanner picked up something on my suitcase, too.  That got everyone’s attention.

So in addition to getting publicly felt up, I also won the booby bonus prize:  Having every single item in my luggage removed and laid out so everyone could scrutinize it.  Mom really was right:  Always buy nice underwear.  Even if nobody ever sees you wearing it, at least it’ll look pretty when it’s spread out on the security conveyor in front of dozens of gawking bystanders.

By that point I was beginning to wonder whether I had actually packed some dynamite without noticing; but fortunately they didn’t find anything.

At last they allowed me to get re-packed and re-dressed, and I made it to the boarding lounge with everything but my dignity, privacy, and equanimity.  I left those behind at Security – I guess they had to confiscate something after all that kerfuffle.

Anybody else got “random passenger” tattooed on their forehead?

Book 14 update:  I hit Chapter 25 this week!  The middle of a book is always where I start to question my writing ability and sanity, but fortunately I know by now that it’s all part of the process.  Will… push… through…

46 thoughts on ““Random” Passenger

  1. 14 books? Wow! And, I’m making a big stink about my first and only memoir, with monthly updates and little,progress. I like how you provide update snippets.

    This post sure resonates with me, as my husband and I both get pulled over often. Not as much for the pat downs as for the unpack every piece in your carry-on treatment. Of course it doesn’t help when you travel with lots of electronics for your job or forget to take out your Swiss Army knife before flying.

    My biggest horror experiences didn’t take place at security, however, but at immigration. But that’s another story.


    • I can only imagine. I feel guilty enough going through regular security – on the rare occasions when I’ve had to go through Customs, I’m trembling in my boots!

      And hey, congratulations on your memoir! It’s worth making a big deal of it – lots of people want to write a book, but very few do. Don’t feel discouraged by the speed of your progress – writing a book takes as long as it takes, and rushing because you feel as though you “should” write faster will only make you stressed and ultimately unhappy with the final product. Write on (at your own speed), and enjoy! 🙂


  2. Nicely written. I was with you from start to finish. I’ve never experienced “security” at such a thorough level though I’ve been through more airport security check points than I could possible remember. Hope I never do.


  3. Not being the svelte young thing I used to be (gasp), I try and wear something comfy while traveling through the friendly skies – BAD idea these days. I was informed while flying to San Jose that “baggy pants” should never be worn (as it is a huge ‘come on’ to security these days) and guarantees a thorough pat down, as well as the contents of your suitcases being opened and thoroughly searched. Apparently if you walk through the scanner with ‘poofy areas’ around your … what should I call it … groin area(?), the scanner will invite the TSA screeners to pat down said poofy areas to assure themselves no bomb is hidden there (which kind of makes me wonder, if the area is poofy, how could there be a bomb there??). Anyway, having assured themselves I did not have a bomb tied above each of my thighs, the nice agents decided it must be in my carry on. They searched my snacks!!! Given the aforementioned in-flight meals, what do they expect me to carry on for a seven hour flight if not a couple of bags of Pepperidge Farm Tahoes and Montauks?!?!?!!?


    • OMG! You made me look up Tahoes and Montauks, and I just have to say that if I’d been the agent searching your snacks, the bags would have come away quite a bit lighter. Those look YUMMY!

      And I’m really glad to know about the Poofy Protocol. I usually wear yoga pants when I’m flying, but it would have been just my luck to decide, “Nah, I think I’ll wear my comfy baggy jeans.” I’m beginning to relate to the woman who wore a string bikini under her coat, and stripped down to the strings before going through airport security. I guess she got quite a few stares, but they didn’t have much excuse for a pat-down.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve only been stopped once and that was last year coming back from Seattle (our youngest daughter’s wedding), when a screener pulled me aside and kept asking me if I had anything dangerous in my backpack, which I repeatedly responded with a “No”. He finally reached into my backpack and pulled out a very large knife….a large ornate and obviously antique cake cutting knife….oops…I immediately recognized it as the wedding cake cutting knife my mother in law was given for her wedding billions of years ago and apparently we used for our daughter’s wedding. No one will fess up to putting it into my backpack and the screener didn’t think it was funny as I explained the family heirloom and it’s use in a recent wedding….the “no nonsense” screener did remove the knife from our family lineage at that point….but, heck…I’ver never been stripped searched…by an airport screener that is…


    • Oops! Too bad about your family heirloom, but at least you didn’t get into too much trouble. I wouldn’t worry about these adventures in Security so much, if not for the fact that every time they “find” something on me, they write down my name. I’m always afraid that after a certain number of mentions on the shit list, they might just ban me from flying. (Or maybe I’m just paranoid. Okay; maybe that’s not a “maybe”.)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Since I had to start hauling a suitcase of medications and medical equipment, I have the honor and privilege. My meds no longer fit in an ammo case. I graduated to a cheap tackle box. Who knew Maalox powder reads on the scanner as a liquid. Nor did I know that a CPAP reads as an explosive. Oh yeah, don’t put the power cords for all of your electronic devices in the same carry on. It looks like bomb wires.

    Smaller airports thoroughly inspect every item, wipe hands and containers for explosive residue, and sometimes add an extra pat down.

    Large airports look at the screen, ask if the large item is a CPAP, and send you on your way.


    • You nailed it! I got the works at a tiny airport that was barely big enough to accommodate all the passengers on the flight. I guess they don’t want to be accused of being lax. But I’d still like to know where the so-called explosive residue on my suitcase came from.

      I have several friends who use CPAPs, so I know what you mean. They’re an annoying extra to lug around, but a real life-changer when they’re working well.


  6. My daughter and I took a 12 week trip through Europe and The States in 2010, and every where we went it was random passenger time. Not much fun at the airport, however we had a blast of a time everywhere else!


    • Twelve weeks, wow! What an amazing trip for the two of you! I don’t think I’ve ever gone on a trip that lasted more than ten days, excluding a family trip from Canada to Mexico via Greyhound bus when I was just a kid. (I don’t count that one because I got motion sick and spent the whole trip drugged out of my mind so I don’t remember much.) I’m glad yours was a success!


  7. Diane, You have a wonderful way of finding humour in one the most humourless places one can imagine – the airport security area. I’ll try to remember your descriptions as I endure whatever they throw my way!
    Dave (Hubby)


  8. Oh dear. I don’t like to travel, but was considering the need for it because of our daughter’s and her family’s upcoming long-term move . . . but now I’m about to wuss out again . . .

    And thanks for the tip about the nice undies! lol


    • Sorry about unloading my travel woes on you! I doubt if you have anything to worry about – I’m pretty sure that my issues are mine alone. Nobody else seems to raise the hackles of airport security, so you’ll probably be fine. Just don’t mention my name… 😉


  9. I would just get in my car and drive. I am not in a big enough hurry to go anywhere to put up with all that B. S. Even though other drivers seem to think they are the only vehicle using the road. aaarrrrggghhhhh


    • Driving is looking more and more attractive. And I actually like driving, too, especially across the prairies. The only catch is that my usual trip to Manitoba would now take me three solid days of driving about 12 hours a day (one way). Losing six days of work time in addition to my actual vacation time makes me a little twitchy. (But maybe that’s just a sign that I need a vacation!) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t have the overzealous security problem, thank goodness. I almost always set off their alarms though and they have to use the wand. My TSA friend says my jeans aren’t tight enough, lol! Evidently if they’re baggier in some areas it will flag you. I need to send a letter to Levi Strauss telling him that his jeans are defective, lol. But all in all it’s not a big deal, especially since I do now have pre-check status. Hooray!!
    The problem I have is that I always choose to pick my seat beforehand. The airline I fly most often charges extra for this but I gladly pay it because I want to make sure I’ll be as comfortable as possible(which, let’s face it, isn’t very). Inevitably I get Jo/Joanna schmo, who opted for the cattle call method of seating or random assignment, asking me to move so they don’t have be separated from whoever they’re flying with. I always kindly explain about paying extra so I could sit in this exact spot, but It doesn’t matter to them because the fact, as they see it, is that I’m flying alone and it shouldn’t matter where I sit. So they make a scene, making everyone on the plane think I’m a jerk! That’s my flying burden. I’m the jerk. People suck.


    • Argh. How rude. If it was that important for them to sit together, maybe they should have paid the few bucks it costs to pre-book their seats…? I usually fly Westjet, and with them you can check in up to 24 hours in advance and choose your seat for free. You still have to pay if you want to choose a seat earlier than that, but it seems like a fair system to me.

      The “baggy jeans” concept is an eye-opener. I guess I’ve never encountered that one because I usually wear comfy stretchy pants when I travel. Good Lord, could you imagine the harassment I’d get if I wore baggy jeans?!? 😉


  11. Oh, Diane! Reading this after a particularly restless night’s sleep (knew I shouldn’t have succumbed to the Mars bar temptation..damn Hallowe’en) is really perking me up. Thanks for the morning giggle. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yeah, I get that. I’ve been that ‘some random guy’ in an airport, too. I expect it. No big deal. Just leave the Gatling guns and pocket nukes in the glove compartment while the car’s in long-term parking. Get out of the car, check my pockets, grab the carry-on from the trunk, check my pockets, lock the car, check my pockets, check my pockets, and wade into the fray. Yep, no big deal.

    The worst thing I’ve seen was after security ramped ‘way up back in the day. A group of nuns ranging in age from early 60s on up through the pre-fossilization stage was traveling together. The TSA nitwits chose THE OLDEST NUN I’VE EVER SEEN for everything but a CAVITY SEARCH!! She was 85 if she was a day, feeble, and she hobbled along all stooped over–WITH A QUAD CANE.

    No kidding! She never said a word. Nor did any of the sisters in her group. But I’d wager much that the morons on duty that morning will never see heaven. I hope Someone saves them a nice place close to the fire. Really close.

    It progressed to the point that the crowd in line behind the nuns started to get, er, noisily agitated. And then a bit noisier still. One of the TSA nitwits radioed their supervisor who came hurrying out of an Authorized Personnel Only door, saw what was happening–with the crowd, NOT with the poor old nun!–and CALLED AIRPORT SECURITY ON HIS RADIO!

    Fortunately, we were in the line beside that one which, apparently, was staffed by nitwits with more than, say, two functioning brain cells. Eight, maybe. Nine, tops.

    Everyone picked up on the rapidly worsening mood of the cattle near the troublesome nitwits, and the check-in speed picked up considerably. Until it was my turn. Yep, I got the works, too.

    Afterward, my wife said very calmly, “No wonder they checked you. You looked angry enough at the idiots to lay waste to the whole place all by yourself. You should work on your poker face, dear. We’re going to have to fly again to get home, you know.” Yep, that’s Thuh Missus for you. An island of calm in the storm of life. (And clearly why I’m still alive.)

    I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that I hate flying. But have I made it clear HOW MUCH I hate it? If not, I’ll be glad to elaborate. Just sayin’…


    • I think I’m getting an inkling. Thank goodness for your wife! I guess this is yet another reason why married men live longer. (Or so the research says. One of my less-enlightened male friends insists that married men don’t actually live longer; it only feels that way.) 😉

      I’m worried about the fact that the longer I live, the stupider other people seem. I used to believe that everyone was innately smart and that apparent stupidity was only a lack of appropriate education. Sadly, I now believe that true stupidity is a bone-deep and insurmountable personal choice; and it’s completely unrelated to education or lack thereof. I don’t even want to think about how my attitude will have deteriorated by the time I’m the age of that poor old nun; but I’m betting I won’t be nearly as saintly about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Frankly, it’s not you. I’m convinced the world is suffering from pandemic brainlessness.

        Thus, my worldview has emerged, er, thusly.

        Bryant’s Theorem: Ignorance is curable. Stupidity is not.

        First Corollary: The severity of either condition increases proportionally with the age of the observer.

        Second Corollary: Tolerance for either condition decreases exponentially with the age of the observer.

        The Third Corollary and those following shall be withheld due to the family-friendly nature of the image I occasionally attempt to project.

        Further, the Theorem itself is under consideration for revision. The word OCCASIONALLY is a candidate for insertion after the word IGNORANCE in the first statement of premise. Additionally, the word EVER most likely will be added as a separate, stand-alone qualifier after the second statement of premise.

        So, see? It’s not you. Or not *just* you.


  13. I’ve got the “harmless confused old man” stamp on my forehead. A couple of years ago I got in the security line and after waiting 20 minutes in line a nice young TSA agent informed me, “Sir, you’re TSA pre-check, you don’t need to go through this line.” I was confused – what is TSA pre-check and why I am I one? I asked. Then a nice young lady TSA agent said, “Follow me sir.” Figuring I was in for it, I followed her to an x-ray station and metal detector. “No, don’t take your shoes off, leave everything in your bag, you’re ‘Pre-checked'” Confused I walked through the metal detector and it went off. The nice young man at the other side said, “Sir, I think you forgot to put your cell phone in your bag.”
    “Oh, sorry,” I said as I took my phone out of my pocket and started to look for a place to put it down, “You want me to go back through?”

    “No sir, you’re TSA Pre-checked. You can get your bag from the scanner.”
    Then an middle aged lady TSA agent came buy and asked to see my boarding pass. She then pointed out where my gate was and noted it was right across from the Starbucks.

    It was a very confusing day. and ever since, I have to go through the “Pre-check” line. I think it’s suppose to be a good thing, but I can’t help thinking that it’s just TSA’s way of keeping a closer eye on me.


  14. Bingo! Right on! Except I am no longer random. One trip scheduled on short notice. I grabbed a carry-on with out thinking. I had used it some time previously to go to the range. Yeah. The shooting range. I reload my casings so the bag was loaded ( pun intended) with burned and un burned powder from the empty cases.

    I now get special attention. It will be interesting to see how it works out to cross the border to visit Calgary, and return next summer.


    • Oh, that was a very big OOPS! Good luck with your trip…

      They wrote me up on a special sheet for explosives, too; so I’m sure this is the start of a beautiful friendship (not) with every screening agent forevermore. I can’t imagine why my suitcase set off the alarms, because it definitely hadn’t been anywhere near ammo. The only thing I can think of is that I’d bought some duct tape at a dollar store to repair a torn pocket, and the cheapo made-in-China duct tape was probably contaminated with something. Lesson learned.


  15. I’m an ugly old white man. Why would they want to cop a feel on me? Maybe if they get suspicious of me it is my “come hither” look that makes them think twice. “Yeah, YOU big boy. Come over here and touch me some more!” If I could fart at will this would be the time to do it. Or maybe throw up. That might make them think again. You are an attractive woman. Make yourself look more like a meth head and they will leave you alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m laughing helplessly at the thought of you throwing up, farting, and then announcing in a loud clear voice, “All systems go!” But I think I’d be afraid to go with the “meth head” look – it might work; but it might backfire spectacularly, too. (And thanks for the compliment!) 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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