A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
Ok, it was only a few years ago in an airport fairly close by, but I was on a mission. Not quite the kind that required a lightsaber, just a corporate card (which can be just as dangerous) and a passport.
Our company was converting financial systems, and ironically enough, I work in the Finance department, so I was asked to join the team of “experts” that would develop and test the new program. To this day I still haven’t quite figured out if I was chosen because they wanted to get rid of me, (not without reason), or because they couldn’t afford to lose one of their valued employees for any length of time, making me the only other choice. I didn’t care either way. I was more than willing to go. Goodbye menial number’s slave; hello CFO! (I dream big.)
Little ol’ me would be flying back and forth to Boston for the next 6 months, to represent Canada. Yes that’s right, all of Canada. I’ve actually been on conference calls where the introductions go something like this: “Hi everyone, thanks for joining me. This is Cathy in the Boston office. Also on the line are Neil and Bob from our San Francisco office, John in the New York office, and Jenn from Canada”. Not only do I represent an entire country, I apparently don’t work out of an office. (Dammit, my igloo’s melting all over my spreadsheets again!)
So there I am, ready to do my duty for Queen and country, waiting in line to go through airport security. My pockets are empty; my feet bare. My purse and laptop bag are awaiting the Total Recall X-ray machine crammed into one of those plastic bins that are designed to fit neither purses nor laptop bags. Finally, I am called forth into the metal detector.
Looking around for the guilty party so I can give them the “eye-roll of shame”, I hear a voice say “Ma’am, could you please step back and through the machine again.”
Holy hell, it’s me!
I walk back and forth through the machine again, willing the metal detector gods to cease their torment.
Oh, you have got to be kidding me!
“Do you have anything in your pockets, Ma’am?” I’m not sure whether I’m more embarrassed at the fact that the entire airport is now giving me the “eye-roll of shame”, or mortified at the fact that this security dude, who has clearly only just stopped breastfeeding (still too soon?) keeps calling me Ma’am? I am clearly missing a few of the key components of ‘Ma’am’ status, Junior. Most importantly the white hair and cane, so zip it!
I give myself a pat down and shake my head. “I’ve got nothing, I swear.” Of course I realize that the truth of this statement has no bearing on the fact that I am about to be detained and then subject to rendition; although if Jake Gyllenhaal were at the other end of my impending hooded flight, it could have redeeming qualities. (I dream big.) Dammit, this is why my mother always told me to wear clean underwear.
“Ma’am, please step toward me.” Are we in an alternate universe where Toronto is south of the Mason-Dixon Line? Stop calling me Ma’am!
“I’m going to have to wand you down now, Miss.” Much better.
Under normal circumstances, I’d probably find myself slightly turned-on by this. Alas, I am only further humiliated. He pulls out a hand-held metal detector and all I can think is “Hey, I have something similar at home, only I don’t call her Garrett.” He begins waving it around my head, because clearly I am wearing a giant metal helmet, and slowly works his way down.
“Please lift your arms to the side.” Crap, did I remember to put on deodorant?
“Thank you Jenn. You can lower them now.” Given our intimate state of affairs we’re now on a first name basis.
And then he proceeds down from my hip. It is at this point I should mention that I’m wearing men’s cargo shorts, (my standard travel gear), which of course, have about 5 million pockets. He finishes one leg, then begins at the other hip and starts working his way down.
Am I being punked? I didn’t realize I was a celebrity. I mean there was that one party with the video camera and the…Ahem, nevermind.
He has now reached knee-pocket level of my cargo shorts and his wand is beeping like it’s found the mother lode. I pat the pocket in question and shake my head again, but clearly this is not enough to sway him. Apparently I’m going to have to either turn my pocket inside out or submit to a strip search in order to prove my innocence. Fine, have it your way Junior. Strip search away, but Jake gets to do it!!
Just kidding…sort of…
Now, it is at this point in our story where I have to backtrack. (Just imagine you’re watching an awesome movie that flips back and forth in time in order to build the story. But not like the movie Memento where it only goes back in time and nobody understands what the hell is going on).
About a month prior to the Great Airport Security Saga of ’09, I went to the Dominican Republic with a few friends. (Names have been omitted to protect the innocent, or guilty, depending on your point of view.) Being the only single one in the group, I packed appropriately. I brought condoms. Yes, I also packed clothes and shoes and stuff, but none of them have any bearing on my single status. Anyway, I packed entire box of condoms. Possibly more wishful thinking than appropriateness, but I’m a safety kinda girl. Our last night there, a friend asked me to borrow one. (Why people say “borrow” when you have no intention of giving it back, nor would I want you to, I’ll never understand.) I broke the seal on the box, (it was a shitty vacation), and took solace in the fact that at least someone would benefit from my Girl Guide state of preparedness.
The next morning while waiting for the bus to the airport, she handed me back the unopened package, I shoved it in my pocket, and we had a good laugh about the night’s events. Hey, what happens in Dominican, stays in Dominican, (unless it’s for background integral to the story.)
Meanwhile, back at airport security…
I reach into the offending pocket and Tada! – the condom, still in its foil package, (freshly washed for her pleasure.) Such was my embarrassment that I actually said “I have no idea how that got in there”. Cue laugh track.
I’m positive that if I’d had the nerve to look back, there would have been a giant sign above the metal detector that said “SLUT” in flashing, neon lights for all to see.
Junior is now looking at me in a whole new light. He tells me I can collect my belongings and proceed to the gate, but not before holding his hand up to his ear and mouthing “Call me”. His wand beeps one more time, as if in farewell.