My shoes are in the white plastic bin, as is my computer and Iphone; my purse, sweater and short navy wool jacket are in another. Hand cream and toothpaste are bagged, visible on the tray, in one ounce ziplocks.
Tame as a sheltie in the San Fernando Valley one might think, but no, not to the team at American.
“We have to pat you down. It’s the skirt.”
Then she explains.
Everyone with a skirt like mine is clearly suspect.
To their credit, the good people at American Airlines are pleasant, the agent smiles as she directs me to a lunge, maybe it's an Akido or a yoga pose, first the left foot forward, then the right, so that she can check for explosives. It is hysterical and another passenger, the gentleman behind me in line, who clearly isn't wearing a skirt, is amused. "You did that well," he smiles. "Good stretch."
Indeed. Another woman might have been embarrassed. Actually, I am that other woman.
This is a security risk worthy of two full minutes of everyone's time. How many people are waiting in line?
I finally reach the gate to find that phone signals are scrambled. Perhaps this is a security measure, too, for our benefit, of course. But we'll be arriving a 5 a.m. CST, and I have yet to send my son a text with flight information and it is 1 a.m. his time. So I leave FD to find coverage, have to scramble alone to board when I get back.
My carry-on does not pass. It is too full, too fat, apparently, like I feel after eight days of matzah (I said No thank you on the last day). The bag is roughly tagged. It will be sent to baggage, a not-so-friendly agent tells me, handing me a claim slip. Nobody's smiling here at the gate. I say goodbye to my newly purchased carry-on, for this is a red-eye, and the ground personnel at Ohare will likely oversleep.
Such is life. I don’t care. It's late.
But oh. FD cares. Why didn’t I argue? The same bag fit on the way to Los Angeles. Why wouldn’t it fit on the way home?
“I don’t fight City Hall, it isn't worth the time."
He thinks I’m a wimp.
It isn't my nature to confront authority, I remind him, although No has to be the beginning of the negotiations in many situations. All I want is to get home, not be detained as a terrorist.
The folks at American haven't read the Daniel Silva novels, obviously. The novelist estimates 16,000 terrorists in Britain alone, three thousand trained by al-Qaeda, as many, perhaps more in the USA? But this is fiction. I have one of these thrillers in my purse right now.
And because of the novel, because maybe it really isn't fiction, when I look at the world, at the crowds, at people in the airport, even in the park, at the mall, on the bus, nothing is the same.