Leaving Orlando, I was “allowed” to “enjoy” the new air travel experience of the TSA.
They have the usual X-Ray your Bags Belt, and a new “irradiate your whole body and show you naked” backscatter X-Ray device (at least, that’s what it looked like to me), and the old “Magnetometer Beeper Arch” but without the ‘wands’ for finding that your zipper is in fact metal and in fact in your pants…. Soo….
I got to walk up to the entrance to Security and place my bag on the belt. Then place my backpack on the belt, but before it got away take out the laptop, that went in it’s own little tub.
And away they went.
Then another tub got my shoes.
And off it went…
At that point a third tub got my jacket and cell phone.
Away it went.
OK, I’m done, I think. Having placed all “the usual” in tubs…. Not so, I was informed by the TSA guy. (At least, I think it was a guy… this was at about 5:50 AM and I’d been up since 4:20 AM but had not had coffee yet and was just a bit more than 1/2 still asleep…
‘What?’ said I… in that confused ‘did someone talk to me while I was reminiscing about REM sleep’ kind of way I have about me at 5.xx AM with all of 2 hours of almost sleeping under my belt. Wait, I’ve heard that word somewhere before. B-E-L-T belt… Something about a belt…
‘Oh, what about it?’
“The Buckle. It’s metal.”
I look down. It’s less metal than is in my teeth. GOD I hope they don’t expect me to put my teeth in a tub… they are still connected…
The belt goes in a little round tub (I’ve already preloaded all the usual pocket metal into the suitcase… coins, pens, flashlight, keys, etc.)
Away she goes…
So, I think, I’ve got on socks, pants with a plastic button and no belt, and a dress shirt with plastic buttons and some underwear (boxers… Heck, they know, you might as well know…). Not much else to ‘give up’ I think in my bleary eyed way.
“ANYTHING IN YOUR POCKETS?”
‘huh?’ … ‘Nothing metal…’ and I pull out what’s still in my pockets.
A plastic case (see through) with some silicone ear plugs in it for attempting to remain sane in the plane if there is too much noise, small children (who seem to somehow have the largest of voices), a bad movie on the laptop of the guy next to me, someone snoring in the row behind me, or just a person next to me who wants to talk when I want to attempt to sleep, as futile as that might be… but I digress..), some paper money, a plastic comb, and a wallet with plastic and paper in it. Oh, and one Benadryl Capsule in the blister pack for the odd allergic emergency. (Not just me having a ‘tobacco moment’ but anyone who might have an ‘issue’… Be Prepared, someone once told me… but I wasn’t prepared, I was about to discover.)
“PUT IT IN A TUB.”
‘What? This? There isn’t any metal, it’s plastic?’
“THE PILL, it’s got metal foil on it, and the plastic box”
‘It’s Benadryl. In case of an allergic problem.’
“PUT IT IN A TUB.”
OK, it all goes in another plastic tub, along with absolutely everything else in my pockets and wallet and all.
“TAKE THE MONEY”
‘What?’ (You see a pattern forming here?)
“TAKE THE PAPER MONEY OUT”
OK, it goes back into a pocket. WOW, I’m going to get to keep something other than my underwear …
Away goes ANOTHER Little Round Tub.
So now I’m thinking (while standing in the approach to the Backscatter X-Ray Box thingy looking at the backside of a woman in some odd uniform who is on the other side talking to someone else and looking away from me. While thinking is hard at this moment, being before noon and with neither coffee nor sleep, I’ve been prodded into it by the TSA ‘guy’ repeatedly waking me up to inform me I was overdressed… Let’s see, one big bag, one small bag, laptop tub, two big clothes tubs, two, or was it three small round tubs… So I’ve got about 7 total tubs and bags stacking up on the other side of the X-Ray Box. Gee, this is going to be a slow process when it happens at high noon with a crowd… I’m almost glad it’s it’s whatever time it is…
“GO TO The Other Line”
“SHE’S NOT READY. Go to the other line.”
As he points to the old magnetometer line…
At this point, I realize that he thought I was planning on going through the Backscatter X-Ray and I’d really only just become dimly aware of what it was and of the fact that they kind of wanted me to go through the backscatter X-Ray but the other Lady Guard was busy gossiping with someone so I couldn’t go through it, even though I’d not really figured out I was supposed to have a choice… But now I had no choice, it was the Magnetometer for Me… but I was still pondering how to get into the tight little arch of the Backscatter machine with my pants trying to reach my ankles if I let go of them to hold my arms out like the pretty pictures on the sides… Being rather “round in the middle” and tapering to pencil legs in one straight inverted triangle does not help hold ones pants up…
“GO TO THE OTHER LINE.”
And away I went.
Waddling over to the Magnetometer with my legs a bit splayed to help keep the pants up and one hand on the front, hoping they would not ask me to hold my arms out. Then Boldly Waddling Through!
Nothing Went Beep!
Now, I don’t know if it was the lack of a beep; or that I was “waiting” for the Backscatter X-Ray so clearly had nothing to hide, or just that at 5.xx AM they were not interested in ‘feeling up’ a 50 something slightly pudgy guy with his pants being pulled up tight on whatever they thought might have been there once upon a time… or just that it was pretty clear that I was not capable of blowing up an airplane as I couldn’t even find coffee and clearly was daft (being without sleep does that…) but they decided I did not need the body pat / slide / fondle treatment. Kind of sad, too, as I was going to ask that the Backscatter Lady “do the deed” to see if I had a choice… She was much cuter than Mr. Magnetometer Man.
At any rate, I then waddled over to the belt where my bags and tubs were stacking up, filling pretty much the whole thing. And it was a pretty long waddle, too, being as I had to cross the Backscatter X-Ray line to get back to it. (Though it is worth noting that during all this time I was the only person to actually BE in any of these lines going through machines… as the people behind me were still busy with disrobing and saying “What?”… )
So there I was, putting on my belt first (and a great relief it was, getting the use of both hands back…) Then putting the ‘pocket litter’ back in the pockets (now that the added weight would not rocket my pants to my ankles… Wonder what they do with suspenders? Does anyone still make “braces” with the leather ends and buttons? The Amish must… no, wait, buttons are “prideful”, it would have to be a toggle or a frog… but I digress again….) And then the Laptop back in the backpack, shoes on the feet, cell phone in a pocket, jacket on.
OK, what’s left?
Oh, yeah, bag off the belt, handle up wheels down. Backpack on.
Is that everything? GOD I hope so… A last look around as, at last, the next person has an article coming out of the X-Ray Box. OH! The Boarding Pass! Grabbed it from the tub with the pocket litter in it…
Seems that the paper boarding pass must go through the X-Ray machine too. Don’t know why. They print it at the airport. Seems they could have used non-magnetic ink… but Mr. Belt Man had specifically told me to put the boarding pass in the tub ( I left that out up above and I didn’t actually remember doing it until I remembered it at the other side of the belt…. but then did remember him telling me to put it in the tub… Did I mention it was 5.xx AM?…)
Finally, Off To The Gate!
A Modest Idea
While wandering to my gate, I had time to ponder. And when I ponder, few Sacred Cows are safe from being milked for all they are worth… “How could I speed up and make easier this process?”
And the idea occurred to me that it would be easier if I had less clothes on as I approached The Machine.
To that end, perhaps this small idea could be of interest…
I wear sandals when traveling. Just leave the socks in the suitcase.
Put ALL pocket contents in the pants in the suitcase or backpack. Everything.
Put on a long lightweight ‘drover’ or ‘trench’ coat. Over your choice of ‘speedo’, jogging shorts, or swim suit (preferably tight fitting and with very short legs). And nothing else.
Think about it.
You arrive at The Bag Belt. Backpack on belt, laptop in tub. Suitcase on belt. Whip off the coat and shoes and put them in a tub. TA DAH! You now have on exactly nothing other than a Speedo (or tight jogging shorts) and can immediately walk through the magnetometer. There’s no need for the “Backscatter X-Ray” as pretty much everything is in clear view. Not much need for a “pat pat” either, as the tightness pretty much shows what all is where… (For women, the smallest bikini you can muster would do nicely).
Just think how much faster this would be! And we do it at the beach, so why not in the airport? (might want to get the heater turned up a bit, though).
And while it might be a bit embarrassing for the TSA the first few times someone did it (what with heads turning to wonder if THEY were next to be asked to strip…) I’m sure the TSA guys would rapidly come to appreciate that this really was helping them do their job, rapidly and efficiently… Especially after the novelty wore off and the TV camera crews stopped lurking nearby hoping for a TV bit…
Yes, the more I think about it, the more this looks to me like the ideal way to get through security with the least “radiation exposure” and “groping” issues, and the maximal “exposure of the issues”…
Maybe I’ll even try it some day (when I’m not in too big a hurry… and it’s not a cold 5.xx AM in the terminal…) Perhaps some afternoon when leaving the hotel for the airport. No need to change after that last dip in the pool, just toss on the travel coat, grab the bags and head to the airport! Such convenience and innocence all wrapped up in one package…
Perhaps it could even start a trend. Folks wearing speedos and bikinis at the Airport bar and in the Club Lounge…