I once told my husband that it would be fun to be a TSA Tester. You know, the person who tries to sneak banned items through the airport security gates, gets discovered and pulled aside into a back room, then shows a secret “I’m just testing you” badge. I would proudly announce, “Good job today. You were all very alert.” Then head home to plan another sneaky encounter the next day.
But I don’t think this job really exists. In reality, TSA agents get tested every single day by the public they serve. On a recent trip, my bag was confiscated for a second scan and while I was waiting with the other passengers in line, I had a time to observe their thoroughness.
The purple haired passenger in front of me had her backpack double inspected. With good reason apparently. When they opened it, they pulled out a can of Spaghettios. Yup. A good old, red and white can of traditional Spaghettios. Apparently canned goods are not allowed on planes, because it was confiscated. Or the TSA agents forgot their lunch that day. But the bigger question is, who travels with cans of food? So heavy. If she really couldn’t leave her Italian food behind a bag of noodles would be much lighter. And how was she planning on heating it up? Does she have a butane camp stove buried deeper in her pack? Was it a gift? I have so many questions about the Spaghettios.
The teachery looking woman who was next in line also had her bag double inspected. The TSA agent spent a lot of time staring into her viewing box. Finally, with a kind look on her face, the agent asked, “Are you transporting remains in your bag?” The teachery woman sighed, “Oh yes. It’s my cat.”
What? Cat remains? I’m going to stop there. I have no further questions about a dead cat on an airplane.
And then it was my turn. The agent loaded my blue backpack onto the conveyer belt for another trip through the scanner. (By the way, have you ever wanted to ride on one of those things?) My bag went back and forth several times as more and more agents gathered around. Finally there were four young male agents staring at the x-ray version of my pack. “Just open it!” I wanted to yell, but I didn’t because that lands you a quick trip to the back room and I don’t have the secret tester badge yet.
Eventually, they brought me my bag. “What were you looking at?” I asked.
So I took my bag and walked to my waiting family.
But all day I kept thinking about my bag. What had I packed that could have looked suspicious? Clothes? Swim suit? Toothbrush? Book? Flip flops? Ah! It came to me. I had an entire sandwich bag stuffed with tampons. Maybe they had the same shape as some kind of munitions? Maybe? And maybe the young male agents were too embarrassed when they returned my bag to me to say anything.
Or maybe they realized that anyone carrying that quantity of tampons was no one to be messed with.