Nothing says safety like putting your tooth paste in a little plastic bag. Apparently, flying is a terrorist’s favorite way to travel, so security on airports are a serious business nowadays. Ironically, of course, those terrorists too cheap to fly are being taken out by flying drones that have no passengers in them, but the planes that still take passengers have to be heavily guarded. As I travel more often than I used to, I’m also getting used to the security lines. I wear flip flops when I travel and pants that don’t necessarily need belts, so I take about four seconds to get through.
However, one fine morning, miss Missouri and I went on a trip together. She had just finished spending a year abroad, so she had to take two suitcases instead of just one. When we were checking our bags, it turned out that you can be extra suitcases with the company we were flying, but no extra weight. We were kindly asked to get the weight to an appropriate level, so we wore as many clothes as humanly possible and stuffed our personal carry-ons with the heavy stuff. We were nobody’s favorite in the line. I had a ball of cheese (size of a small bowling ball) in my carry on and when I notified the Irish TSA officer, he asked me a few questions. I had heard them tons of times.
‘Are there any fluids in your bag?’
‘Did you pack your bag yourself?’
‘Did anyone ask you to take something of theirs?’
I smiled at him and said ‘No, yes and no.’
He looked in my bag, pulled out a bottle of water and looked really angry. In our stress of repacking, we had lost a bottle and this man was not happy finding it.
Six weeks later, I flew from Chicago to Dublin, where I’d catch my last flight of the day to Amsterdam. My bags were not as full then and I was absolutely sure I knew everything that was in there. A TSA officer asked me three questions, put my bag in the scanner and then pulled me aside. I recognized him. It was exactly the same guy that had found the water bottle. He opened my bag, pulled out my tooth paste and was just silent. Holding the tooth paste right in front of me, he looked at me and said ‘You were here six weeks ago, weren’t you?’