Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Status Level Orange?

We flew this past weekend. Everywhere we went, if there was a "Terror Threat Status" level sign, it said "Orange."

It is always "orange." It is never not "orange." How can you take these threats seriously as a civilian if they are always "orange?" Orange means they confiscate my lip gloss, and make me take off my flip flops, in case I have a bomb in either one of them. Yeah, I'm planning on hijacking this plane with my mascara wand--it could put somebody's eye out, you know! So, I've gotten kind of cynical about airport security.

The weekend, however, I got stopped! I went through the security checkpoint, and it actually beeped at me! That NEVER happens! Whoops--turns out I hadn't taken my cell phone out of my pocket. That was dumb of me. So cell phone goes into the little bucket and I walk through again. And it beeps again! Suddenly, I'm a security risk. I am herded (carefully, so they don't actually touch me and detonate me, I guess) behind a little stantion while the TSA agent calls for "Female security" on the walkie-talkie. The female agent arrives, and you should think Mama Morton, in a terrible navy polyester uniform.

I am not allowed to retrieve my cell phone, even though some one has picked it up from the conveyor belt and handed it to me. "You may not have any contact with that" they scold me. Okay then! This has never happened to me before, I don't know the protocols, okay?

I am herded (again, with the no-touching-she-might-explode) over to where there are three chairs behind a reinforced glass wall. Another man is being wanded, so I am allowed to ask for a privacy screen. I don't think I need one, do I? Apparently, they only ASK the questions, they will not ANSWER them.

"Sit down." I sit. "Lift up one foot." I lift up my foot. My foot and lower leg check out. "Lift your other foot." I hesitate before putting the first one down--is this supposed to be like Simon Says and you can only do what they tell you to do? She didn't say I could put my first foot down. The second leg checks out okay. "Stand up. Face this way. Arms straight out at your sides. Palms up." Why palms up? I'm not going to ask, obviously, but I do wonder.\

The agent starts the wand at the top of my head, on the left side. Down my head and neck, over my shoulder, out my right arm, back under my arm, and beeeeeeeeep!

"Do you have any idea why you are beeping there?"

Hell, I don't know. Why would I set off an alarm? "Um. The underwire in my bra?"

"I'm going to reset and wand again. If it beeps again I'm going to pat you down."

Yes, it beeps again. And again just below my hip. Why am I beeping? Maybe rivets in my jeans? Why would a security wand go off on jeans rivets? How sensitive is this thing? My underwire doesn't set it off on the right side, but the plastic slides on the straps do, on both sides, plus more rivets.

I am starting to get confused. Is this serious? Why am I suddenly beep-worthy? To such a degree? Could I have touched something? Is my perspiration particularly metallic? What the heck is the deal here?

I get patted down in a couple of places, but there are no unexplainable bumps that are not clearly just me. They let me go, and I'm still no wiser about why I set anything off.

Because everyone knows that fundamentalist Islamic terrorists are now booby-trapping (you should excuse the pun) underwire bras, and if we tell people that underwire bras are now setting off security alarms THAT MEANS THE TERRORISTS HAVE WON!

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