I haven’t made any secret of my disdain for the TSA, but I do generally get through unscathed. I’m pale enough not to alarm any subconscious biases and well traveled enough to avoid packing ridiculous items.
Last time I got stopped. Let me preface this by letting you know that I was late to the airport. Very late, in fact. You know how you’re supposed to make it to the airport at least an hour before boarding starts? So that you have time to get through security, load up on snacks, then sit around being bored? Well, I didn’t do that. My fault. My wife was raging, cursing through her teeth mad at me over my bad planning. We arrived and checked in with about 30 minutes to spare. When we hit the front of the security line they had already started boarding our plane. Fortunately, Indy has a small and orderly airport. All we had to do was clear security.
“Sir, what is on your back?” some portly 30-something TSA officer asked me as he grabbed me. The guy put one hand directly over the middle of my back and put his other hand over my shoulder to hold me in place.
I explained that I had no idea what was on my back. I certainly wasn’t aware of anything there. This was an explanation he found unsuitable.
Meanwhile, a second TSA agent was telling the first that he didn’t need to hold me as I “wasn’t going anywhere.”
The first officer snaps back, “Yes I do. It’s in the manual.”
I’m feeling very safe-and-secure flying today. After all at least one person read the manual, but that security is snapped away from me when the first agent shouts for a male supervisor. It’s never good when they call for someone of your gender.
At this point my wife is attempting to explain that I am wearing a new sweater and have probably left a tag on. This sounds like exactly something I would do. In fact, it sounds like something I would do intentionally as to not lose the attached button. Actually, this is something I did intentionally the day before.
The TSA supervisor turns out to be a man in his 60s. He is surprisingly nice. He has put on latex gloves as he approaches, which is scary for me, but once he gets to me he just repeats (more politely) the question of the first officer.
“Sorry, sir,” he says. “Are you aware of anything that might be on your back?”
“It’s a new sweater,” I explain. “I left the tag on.” Then I offered to take the sweater off. This doesn’t seem to be standard procedure as the supervisor doesn’t look too sure but he nods.
At this point the “final boarding call” has been issued for our flight.
I remove the sweater and show him the tag. Attached to the tag is a small baggy with a button in it. He has the other TSA agent pat my back and they send me on my way with a brief apology.
Marissa and I end up bolting to the plane. She’s had plenty of time to put on her shoes and coat, but I’m holding my shoes and my belt, which means my other hand is holding up my pants as we run. We end up arriving at the plane several minutes before the final two passengers.