Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Part Four ~ Meg Does Dulles

Oh, do I wish I had chosen the name Debbie instead of Meg, just for this one post title! I guess I'm not as forward-thinking as I'd like to believe.

There was a bit of a line at the United counter. I could have used their "express" check-in but I never trust things like that. If they can lose luggage that someone is physically handling, I can't imagine where my luggage would end up if it just went into a dark tunnel with the assumption that someone's going to match it with my name. So I waited on line, both ignoring and being ignored by the other line waiters. The man behind the counter didn't ma'am me, and I told him I had one bag. This is one of the counters where you take the bag to the luggage mangling machine yourself. I left my bag there and asked which was the way to the gates. He seemed irritated, which I'll attribute to him doing the same boring job all day long. I can't imagine it had anything to do with his reaction to me. Well, maybe. Nah. Boring job, fight with his wife, something like that.

From there I went on to security, where you have to show your id and ticket forty-nine times. Forty-six people must have been on holiday or called in sick, because I only encountered three of those annoying people gentlemen doing their job to make the skies safe.

The first looked down at my license and up at me and said "is this your ID?" I smiled and said "that's me." He looked down, he squinted, he held it up and looked at me. I was wondering if I should say something, and if so, what I should say, when he convinced himself that either the ugly duck on the license had grown into a beautiful swan, or he was looking at the absolute worst driver's license photo in the history of the world.

I noticed that the second guy looked at the ID of a couple of people in front of me, but he gave me a big grin and an expansive gesture as he waved me past. I've thought about that a lot and I have NO idea what it was about. Maybe he only spot checked. NO idea.

Right before x-ray was my final test (nothing to do with how much an African swallow can carry). I handed the Final Man With Latex Gloves my ID and ticket. He looked and asked "wrong person?" and I said "no, that's me" and he handed them back and pointed towards a security line that was actually closed, but re-opening momentarily. I guess I'm passing.

The metal detector was in the middle with x-ray machines on either side. I put my laptop, laptop case, two cel phones, purse, and shoes on the belt to the left. I waited as the man in front walked through the detector, then it was my turn. I thought I knew what was coming.


I was right.

"Please remove your watch and bracelet." I did. They went into a little tray that looks like a bedpan on the right-side belt.

I knew that that wasn't it.


"Do you have any metal in your clothing?" asked the man waiting on the other side of the detector.

"I have metal stays under my clothes."

"I don't know what that is." He didn't ask, and I didn't explain.

So he had me step into a little plexiglass room right behind him and he called over someone to hand-scan me.

This was a new experience for me, and not just as Meg. I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm sure I was read because I had to talk. But I didn't hear him specify who should come over ~ he just made a generic call for someone (I forget the title he used). This, I thought, could be interesting.

A Hispanic woman, about 35 and 5 feet tall and a bit on the stocky side came over. Let me say that I have a problem with faces. I will introduce myself to people I've met a half-dozen times. I once saw a woman I worked with on a project for a year outside of work. We started talking and she suddenly said "you don't know where you know me from." I guessed. I guessed wrong. The reason I remember this woman is, we grew kinda intimate over the next five or ten minutes. :)

I'd say she was of average looks, but I find average Latinas attractive. I mention this for the end of this little story.

She did collect my shoes and computer and things from the left side, and I pointed to the little bedpan that someone on the other side was holding up as he either looked for an owner or a bidder. I'm not sure he cared which.

She had a script and knew it well. She kept saying the same things as she did similar things, but I knew she was thrown off her guard from the start. My guess is, from a distance she looked and thought "woman. I'm on ." When she came up to me she said that she was going to use a hand scanner to look for metal and would I rather do it here or in private?" I said "here is fine."

That wasn't the answer she was hoping for.

She looked unhappy, swallowed, and paused for a long time. I think her script didn't allow her to say "well, I'm not comfortable doing this here. We're going into a private room." The question was for my comfort, and, really, I was fine.

She explained that she was going to examine my hair (I didn't volunteer to remove it and put it through x-ray. That would have made me uncomfortable). She didn't muss it or push it out of place, fortunately. Every move she made, she explained, even if it was the fourth time she was doing it. At one point I said "yes I know. You HAVE to say that, don't you?" She went on as if I was mute or she was deaf.

She said "I will use the back of my thumbs when I have to touch sensitive areas, such as your breasts". I am certain she is the first person to ever mention my breasts, live and in person.

She asked if I was wearing any metal and I said that the stays in my shaper were probably the problem. She eventually confirmed that, touching the spots where the wand buzzzzzed. I told her there was a row of hook-and-eyes up the front and that was definitely a problem. The wand did confirm that I had metal stays in the cinch anyway. I thought maybe they were plastic.

As I was getting my stuff together a man walked over to me and said "what do I have to do to get her to do that?" I said "Come to the airport dressed like a woman. Wear a corset. This is why I do it."

No I didn't. I just grabbed his shirt and gave him a big kiss right on the lips.

No I didn't do that either. I gave him a big smile ~ he didn't stick around to hear an answer anyway. But I was smiling for myself too. Maybe I wasn't fooling all of the people all of the time, but to the security guys, to the woman who scanned me, to the guy who made the comment, I was Meg.

And to me I was Meg. And I was having the time of my life.

[ a little postscript: everything in this blog is as it happened. I'm not embellishing things, I'm not making things up. I took copious notes in the airport, on the plane, when I got to my room. I do try to make my audience laugh. I know I'm no Dave Barry. But maybe I'm a Gene Weingarten (local reference). ]


  1. Hey Meg!

    I think your blog is really interesting and a great idea! I wish I had known about this when it started. Guess I'm gonna have to take some time out tomorrow and play catch up.

  2. HA!!! That is so funny... and scary...and hysterical at the end!! I'll have to get dressed and head out to Dulles or BWI, lol!


My day is brighter when I hear from my friends!