So, a few weeks ago Lorna and I booked a trip to Florida during school break. We wanted to get down there to see our daughter, her husband, their kids and also my very independent and spunky 99-year-old mom. Long story short, the trip was great. We had a wonderful time the entire time we were gone. Well, almost the entire time.
There was one little glitch that really didn’t amount to much other than to embarrass and traumatize me a bit, although I probably deserved it. I didn’t cause a ruckus; I only felt like doing that. Hindsight is always 20-20, as they say, (you’ll understand why I used the word ‘hind’ sight better in a moment or two.) and there were a few comments I could have made that I wish I had thought of at the time.
Anyway, we were at the airport. If anything embarrassing is ever going to happen to me it’s usually at an airport. Well, those are at least the embarrassing things that a lot of people might see. If either of us is going to get wanded or questioned, it is always me. We had just presented our IDs to the agent and Lorna went before me into the big, scanning, whatever that thing is, to see if she was hiding guns, drugs, or knitting needles somewhere on her body. (I didn’t think she was. She doesn’t even knit.) There is no choice in entering the machine, and you can’t run away because they already have your shoes.
Lorna entered the big plexiglass can first and held her arms up, as you must do. Then it was my turn. I could barely hold my pants up as they also had demanded my belt, but I dutifully pointed to the sky as everyone else was doing. Then it happened. The agent was checking his little screen on the side of the machine where you were normally granted permission to fly away (after you retrieved your belt, wallet, phone, shoes, and everything else of yours that they had just visually perused) and put his hand on my chest to stop me from taking one more step into that promised land of freedom and privacy once again.
“I have to do a groin check on you.” He sternly stated.
“A what?” I replied, thinking that somehow Lorna had put him up to it.
“A groin check.” He repeated. “See that red square on the screen, right in front of your groin?”
“Yes, I see it,” I hesitantly responded.
“I have to check that.”
“Neat. You’re kidding, right?” He was not kidding.
“You have to turn around and spread your legs.” Now I KNEW Lorna had planned this little surprise. I was very wrong. “Would you like to go to a private room?” he asked me.
I said, “No, just get it over with.” What I was thinking was, “No way! Not with you, Buster!”
I turned around to face away from him, and, somehow, with about eleven million strangers stopping to see what all the fun was about, spread my legs … a little. (I had already had my colonoscopy and figured this couldn’t be as bad as that was.) The TSA agent, who had already donned arm-length blue rubber gloves, (with his job, I didn’t blame him.) got on his knees and ran his hands up the inside of my pantlegs, and I mean ALL the way up. (I was going to write here ‘into the wild blue yonder’ but thought better of it. Now I guess I wrote it anyway. I can’t keep anything from you.)
He then stood up and directed me to turn around and face him. When I did this, there were at least five wide-eyed women peering my way with looks of humor, astonishment, or nausea. I was not sure which. The agent explained to me (and apparently to everyone else in the growing crowd) that he had to run the backs of his hands across my frontal area, right where the big red square was on his screen, and then did just that. He did it as quickly as he probably could, and the little humiliating side show was over.
I must have passed the exam with ‘flying’ colors, as he had found no bombs, bullets, grenades, or guns in my groin. All I had to do then was gather up my belongings and skulk out of there.
I do appreciate the TSA workers and do want to fly on very safe planes. My only question is, still, “What in the world did that machine see? What did it think I was hiding behind that big red square?”