My Unit and I had very different experiences going through airport security when we left for Key West at the ass-crack of dawn. She was in line in front of me; while I was putting my shoes, coat, hoodie, and backpack in the grey plastic bins, I saw the security guard have her step to one side. I didn't know what for, except maybe to wait her turn to go through the metal detector.
Oh, but wait.
It's not a regular metal detector, I realize as I step up. It's two huge black walls, and the TSA agent is instructing me to "assume the position": stand to one side facing one black wall with hands on my head, elbows out. It's the back scatter x-ray that's not been completely tested, the one that give semi-nude scans to the agents running it, y'know, the thing that could potentially cause cancer.
My Unit is watching me. She mouths, "Yeah, I'm not doing that."
I say back to her, "I didn't realize we had to," but my eyes are saying why the fuck did you let me walk into this thing?? And then the TSA agent tells me to stand still.
I seriously didn't realize that's what I was stepping up to. One of the hazards of arriving at the airport at 5:30 a.m., I guess; my brain is still trying to process my surroundings. If I had realized what was going on about five seconds earlier, I would have opted out, like my Unit did.
Speaking of my Unit, she was watching me get scanned. She later said, "Oh my God, your boobs looked HUGE!"
Well, I was due to start my period in another day or so (yes, while on vacation), so they were extra big and swollen.
"Okay, Catwoman," she said. "I bet the TSA guys watching were happy."
Then I stepped out of the scanner. The gentleman in front of me still got a small pat-down even after being scanned. The TSA agent took one look at me and said, "You're fine." Apparently they didn't think I could fit anything else in my T-shirt and jeans.*
What? They're not that tight!
I quickly tried to grab all of my stuff out of the plastic bins so I could catch up with my Unit as it had finally dawned on me what was happening: her own personal pat-down.
A surly female TSA agent began patting her down under my watchful eye. I saw that she used the back of her hand in places (like they're supposed to so as not to "grope"). It was hard to understand her instructions, though, between the airport noise and her (surly) lack of inflection. My Unit had to say, "What?" or "I'm sorry?" at least twice, which just seemed to irritate the agent.
When we compared our two very different security experiences, my Unit said the female TSA agent had handled her quite roughly. It didn't look rough from where I was standing, but I missed the very beginning when she said the lady grabbed her by the scruff of her neck. Perhaps checking the neck is standard operating procedure, but my Unit's bleach blonde hair is cropped very short; there's no place to hide anything. She also said that at least twice the woman nearly knocked her over/off-balance while pressing on her back and legs. Neither of us could imagine being a handicapped or elderly person going through this process if that's the "regular" amount of force they use (my Unit is not a frail, slip of a thing).
Nothing else interesting happened until we after we changed planes. Join us for the next Key West Adventure in "Cloud Vaginas and Elvis."
*The only other time that has happened to me was going into a concert. I was wearing leather pants and a halter top. It was the first concert after 9/11; the big burly security guard took one look at me (and my outfit) and said, "You're fine," and waved me through.
Perhaps it is time to buy new jeans...