The long line backed up leading to the security stations at one of the Detroit Metro terminals. It creeped ever so slowly as the layers of TSA staff performed their specific tasks. I knew that when I reached the first stop, I would be sent to the 'Outer Banks' -- that distant, but much shorter line -- due to the "SSSS" branded on the bottom of my boarding pass. This was their clue that I needed Extra security screening.
You see, I could be/might be/must be a Higher-than-Average security risk. Why? I was flying on a 1-way ticket, plain and simple.
I also knew that by moving to that station that was immediately awaiting me (I felt so special!), I would have a little something 'special' awaiting me by virtue of my gender.
You see, several weeks ago some Chechnyan woman got on airplanes in Russia and they had bombs strapped to their bodies, apparently in/near their bra-range it's presumed. The outcome was dreadful; more than 90 lives were lost. According to some reports, though, these women bribed their way on board, so how extra security could have helped them is unclear. But TSA has implemented procedures for extensive pat down searches which includes using an open hand (not just wanding with a device) around the body paying particular attenting over the chest and around the breasts. [Note: this makes me think that my long held bias against underwire wear may become obsolete if TSA has their way. . .]
I've had this procedure before because I travel fairly often and unfortunately for me, my needs require for cost-savings and route, the use of 1-way tickets. On one quiet day at an airport somewhere in the U.S. a TSA staffer said he felt bad that people with 1-way tickets are persecuted, but he had heard that they're trying to ratchet up some form of clearance system so that if my frequent flyer club, my neighbors, my mailman, my high school algebra teacher, my Aunt Polly, and 3 business associates all vouch for me, I might be able to bypass this 'extra' layer of security.
Actually, I'm not complaining; I'm resigned to it. Most of us, seems to me, are resigned to our personal liberties and dignities being whittled away. That resigned malaise is far worse than the effects of not getting the flu vaccine.
But on that particular day, last week, after my security search, the female agent and I finally had to laugh because you know, you get to know someone for those few moments they're exploring your body parts. Perhaps it was the madcap mood of the moment, but finally I snickered, "Wanna go steady?" and she howled with laughter. Hey, we all have to get along as best we can.
The little old lady in the wheel chair behind me looked rather shaken as she came through, though. She was able to stand briefly and they explained the process of the search; she looked momentarily alarmed and I could see she was looking for her daughter who had not come through yet. I reassured her that I survived it and she would too and just sort of hung around and murmured nurturing sounds while they finished. I offered to help her get her shoes back on and about that time her daughter, who's apparently not a frequent flier, arrived for her personal screening.
Daughter, though, was not listening carefully; instead she was looking backward to this strange lady (Yo) helping her mom get her shoes on when suddenly she realized someone was cupping her bosom and her head spun around in shock! Poor thing. I thought she might have the big one, so I offered, "It's ok, won't take long, they have to do this . . ." "Why?" she implored my direction. Well, I did the best I could and said, "Some bad ladies in Russia brought us to this it seems, sorry, but it won't last long."
She asked if I worked for TSA. HA! Just another fellow passenger in life.
Well, I've got a lot more 1-way trips in my future and so do many men I know. And here's what I'm thinking might get us to some, well, better place, you know as human beings. I've never been a rumormonger but maybe there's a purpose for everything under the sun. So here's the rumor I'd like to ask each of you to tell at least 2 people you encounter in the next day.
"I forgot the name of that country, but I heard that the young men on the plane who were on a suicide mission, terrorists-in-the-making apparently, strapped explosives to their testicles. It was awful; so many were killed. Now TSA will be open-hand examining the genitalia of every man boarding an airplane because they have so many 'hiding places' you see and since the attention is presently turned to women, no one would expect this. Thank God we have security planners to anticipate such atrocities, to help us prevent same here and to keep us safe during these trying times."
Wow, do I feel safer already.