Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Suspicious. Very suspicious

A suspicious white powder led to the Ranzenbergers missing their flight home from Washington, D.C.  Consider being held up at security the price of freedom.
It's just after 4 a.m. at Washington National Airport, and Kissy Missy and I are waiting for security to open up. We ended up spending an extra night in Washington after missing our flight out last night.
We missed it because I was held up at security.
These are not problems I had heard about before, but I guess I might simply have been out of touch.
 1. Carrying both an iPad and a laptop will subject you to additional scrutiny. This additional scrutiny will take time.
2. Do not, under any circumstances, carry anything remotely resembling a white, powdery substance.
I made that fatal error. A container with what appeared to be a powdery substance was detected in my luggage. The line was stopped as a bag-check expert was summoned. This took a while, and several hundred people behind me fumed.
I felt insecure.
 Finally, the brave man from the Transportation Security Administration approached.
"There isn't anything in there that can hurt me, is there?" he asked. This is a standard question, designed to be asked as the owner of the suspicious luggage is standing there.
 If the luggage will do something bad, it's going to get the owner, too. I suspect the suicide agent was looking for me to flinch or twitch, or say something stupid like, "No, the bomb will go off later."
 I didn't flinch or twitch. I said, "No."
He asked again.
 I was cooperative.
At that point, he explained that I had been pulled out due to signs that I was carrying a container of a suspicious powdery substance.
 "Oh, the baby powder," I offered helpfully.
It was in a clear, zippered section of my luggage, beneath my dirty clothes. He carefully and thoroughly examined my possibly suspicious laundry on his way to finding the prize. This investigator knew what he was after now: A canister mysteriously labeled with some variation on the words, "Baby Powder."
There it was, beneath clear plastic, in a zippered pouch. He struggled with the zipper, however.
 I offered to help.
This was suspicious.
 He eventually removed the suspect container from the zippered pouch. He examined it closely. It was labeled Johnson's Baby Powder, and a close look revealed it was of the corn starch variety.
It wasn't clear if the further labeling of this suspicious white powder as "medicated" might have set off more alarm bells.
 He swabbed the outside, and in a scene that might have been from "CSI," he placed the swab into a sensor array. Apparently unsatisfied with the result, he did it again. Finally, the result: Baby Powder. Thank you, TSA. My safety is your business. I feel safer now.
Unfortunately, the process took so long we missed our flight, and it was the day's last flight to Grand Rapids. Now, we will try again. The baby powder was left at the hotel. I will try not to Fit The Profile.

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