Getting frisked twice in three days


Technically, they call it a pat-down when it’s done at the airport, but from what I’ve seen of people getting frisked on TV, cops have nothing on the TSA (Transportation Security Administration, in case you were wondering) when it comes to invasion of privacy in a public setting.

So here’s the thing, those blasted full-body scans are everywhere now. I remember when some poor saps got stuck in those lines while others skated through your standard metal detector, but no more. The putting your hands in the air like you really do care while x-rays check your personage for concealed weapons is now the norm.


Sure, they still have the metal detectors standing there like old relics at a museum for people to stare at in awe and yearning as they wait in long security lines, but those are only for people who apparently travel frequently enough or can afford to pay to not have to raise their hands if they’re sure. Those people also get to keep their shoes on. Apparently rich, well-traveled people don’t conceal weapons in stilettos. Though, truthfully, the stilettos could be used as a weapon. Why am I the only one seeing this? Nail clippers are verboten, but pointy-heeled shoes? No problem. I know which I’d rather have in a fight should I need to poke someone’s eye out.

Not that I spend time thinking about these things.

The other lucky souls who got to used the metal detector were those carrying small children. To this I protest. I’M carrying a small child! He just doesn’t happen to be visible yet!

Even the random lady during my friend’s and my pre-security bathroom break, washing her hands at the sink between us, agreed with me that I shouldn’t use the giant sweeping arm contraption while pregs. [Sidenote: I love when strangers join in your conversation, and I’m not even being sarcastic. It’s just friendly and shows a camaraderie among women. Particularly when it comes to being pregnant. And being in the bathroom.]

So, with shoes off, paraphernalia in the little white bins, and suitcase on the conveyor belt, I waited for the TSA man to take a breath during his routine announcements to those in line about liquids, laptops, and I don’t know, lozenges? Are those forbidden too?

I thought surely he must be finished, but he held a blue-gloved finger up to me (the correct finger) until he completed his litany. Then he deigned to look at me, and I explained that I was pregnant and didn’t want to go through the check-to-see-if-I’ve-shaved-my-pits doohicky. (I believe that’s the technical term. Either way, he knew exactly what I meant.)

He said, “Then you’ll have to get a pat-down. Is that okay?”

I said, “Yeah, I guess,” mystified by the implication that there was another option and too disturbed to think of what that option might be. (I’d been told that, no, the metal detector was not allowed. They must’ve looked at my clothes and decided I wasn’t rich enough.)

I was instructed to stand by a half-door like a sheep left in its pen while all the other sheepy got to go out into the pasture. Someone called, “Pat-down,” and finally a woman eyed me up and down and snapped on her blue gloves.

I had to wait, like a kid outside the principal’s office, for my belongings to come through the conveyor. I was NOT allowed to touch them, only to point them out so she could remove them for me.

Then she went into her spiel of what exactly she’d be doing to me so quickly that I didn’t catch half of what she’d said. Also, how often do you have to recite this ritual that you can rattle it off at that speed? Does she practice with her friends while off-duty, or are there that many potential security threats needing pat-downs?


What the side room at the airport looked like to me–dark and creepy.

She ended with, “We can do this here or in a private room,” indicating a deep, dark hole in a far wall. I was reminded of that scene from Return of the King when Aragorn looks into the passageway that leads to the dead and can almost see and hear the menacing cries of the damned souls.

“Here is fine,” I said, without adding, “where there are plenty of witnesses.”

I dutifully spread my legs awkwardly to fit the footprint pattern on the rubber mat I was standing on and held my arms out from my body. I’d like to point out that the footprints were of a man’s foot–wearing shoes. If he were in this position, he wouldn’t have shoes on. They should draw bare feet prints on there instead.

I bit my lip as I looked at my friend who was waiting for me and trying not to snicker. To the TSA woman’s credit, she was quick and not too invasive. With no other experience in the matter, I’d expect this to be the norm and thought, “That wasn’t too bad.”

Until I had to fly out of D.C. This was a different experience, which I’ll save for the next post, since this one is way too long already. Stay tuned!

Have you ever gotten an airport pat-down? How was it for you? Ooh, ever been frisked by a cop? That sounds like an interesting story. Do share!

50 responses »

  1. Hahaha, once while traveling alone, but still breastfeeding, my breastpump set off the bomb alarm. Because of that tsa had to give me a pat down. The lady was very apologetic as she recognized it was just a breast pump. She explained that their machine had been on the Fritz and had been giving false positives all day but protocol was protocol. LOL


  2. LOL! Oh, not for the pat-down, but for the story. check-to-see-if-I’ve-shaved-my-pits doohicky. Hi-lar-i-ous! I haven’t had the pleasure (?) of having to fly since they’ve enacted the pat-down procedure. Oh for the days when all we had to do was put our shoes in the little bins and take our laptops out so they could make sure they were really what we said they were. Man. And I had the going through the metal detector thing down pat. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the laugh! I needed something fun to distract me from my draft because, like, it’s going soooo slooooww. Have a great weekend!


  3. So humiliating, isn’t it? To be standing there, getting pat down, while other people are watching. I feel like a dog in the bathtub when that happens: hair wet and dripping, nothing I can do about it, while some human sprays me with water. πŸ˜„ Luckily it’s only happened to me a couple times when I’ve either beeped or been the lucky random recipient of a pat-down!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Can’t wait for the next installment as I’m sure I’ll identify with it. I used to be patted down every time because I have a pacemaker, and you described the experience perfectly. Finally I asked my cardiologist if I had to confess to a pacemaker every time because I hate the pat down. He said, “No, just lie and walk on through. If the machine picks it up, say you forgot.” to my delight, it is rarely detected.


  5. Someone did some polling a few yrs. ago that says this nonsense would’ve ended yrs. ago if more people in the USA flew. There’s a pretty big fraction of the popul’n that never or hardly ever flies. I haven’t in over a decade, although in the 20th C. I did a lot more flying. The support for TSA comes primarily from non-fliers, & opposition from fliers. Non-fliers don’t mind putting fliers out like this to putatively reduce the already infinitesimal chance non-fliers will be the victim of a flier using an airliner as a weapon to hit them on the ground. People don’t mind imposing costs on others.

    The trouble is, this situation is likely to continue to obtain for the foreseeable future, because the hassle is enough to deter many people from flying. If we could boost the proportion of popul’n who fly, the fliers could outweigh the interest group of nonfliers, & get this crap abolished, but the situation is democratically stable in a bad condition.

    You may not be old enough — I am — to remember from before the hijackings to Cuba started, and there was no security clearance at all for airline passengers. If that hadn’t been in place for a few decades before 2001, maybe all we’d’ve gotten in that world after 2001 would’ve been the level of checking there’d been in our world for the previous ~35 yrs., but since that’d already been in place for a generation in our world, there was nothing they could think to do but ramp it up.


  6. I hate flying anymore. The romance of travel is long gone. And I do everything my mother told me never to do: take off my shoes in a public place, let my purse out of my sight, allow strangers to touch me. It sucks.


  7. Well now, I’m curious about the next installment … then again, I’m also thinking Oh No!

    Meanwhile, I finally figured out why I wasn’t receiving notifications of your posts —- I wasn’t a follower! Issue corrected … sorry about that.


  8. I have been frisked at an airport, and I’ve also been frisked entering the Houses of Parliament. The most frisking though was when I used to take my kids to visit their Dad in prison – everyone was thoroughly frisked every time, for obvious reasons, even the kids, or perhaps especially the kids, because of course some people use kids to smuggle things in. The kids just took it all in their stride and didn’t seem concerned by it at all, but it did make me sad to think of children having to be frisked before they’re allowed to see a parent – not just my children, any children. Anyway, sorry, didn’t mean to drag things down! I always think about the person doing the frisking too and how they must feel about it, like they have to be so careful to be thorough enough but without going too far so that they get accused of anything! Plus I guess there’s a risk of injury to them if the person was carrying needles or anything.


  9. Pingback: Getting frisked for the second time in three days | parentingisfunny

  10. Pingback: Turning in my introvert card | parentingisfunny

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