adventures in security theater – part 2

The Boy Scout incident –
Every time we walked in a Smithsonian building, we walked through the metal detectors. After the first time, we did not take it seriously. I didn’t finish my mini-wine at lunch in the museum cafeteria and stuck it in Doug’s pocket. Not the same pocket as the pocket knives though. We went to another museum and stomped through the metal detector while a group of 11-year-olds wearing their Boy Scout uniforms had each and every fanny pack and museum gift shop bag searched by security. Boy Scouts should team up with SeV so they can spend more time touring and less time with security.

The annoying parents incident –
The Metro ride from Columbia Heights to the airport was exactly the right length for the youngest members of our group to really need a potty break. Being unfamiliar with the DC airport, we made it all the way to security before locating a restroom. It was clearly visible on the OTHER side of the security area. A countdown clock began ticking in my head and I kicked my shoes off instead of unlacing them as I tried to race through security before we had a laundry emergency.

We stepped up to the TSA agent and Doug put on his brakes. “You’re not going to let the children go through the backscatter machine are you?” “I don’t care. We need to get done here.” “Well, I think it’s a bad idea for the children, but we can do it.” “Don’t care. Don’t care. We need to move forward.” This comedy routine continued for several minutes before the TSA agent finally spoke up. “Sir, we don’t use backscatter technology at this checkpoint.” As I shoved the children through the metal detector, the TSA agent who remained silent for too long, turned toward another TSA employee. “Man, I got arrested and they gave me a choice between prison and TSA. Some days I really think I made the wrong choice.”

The smart phone incident –
The last leg of our flight back to Knoxville was after the youngest children’s bedtime. We were in shark infested behavior water. When Evan is over-tired, he’s exactly like that drunk roommate you had in college. I knew he would nod off once the plane took off, so, of course, the plane took forever to get going. The man in front of us demanded a seat change just before boarding the plane. “I need extra leg room to work.” We stood in line with the world’s most over-tired child. We made it to the plane and a woman with dementia was requiring the assistance of a dozen employees to get her settled, since she is usually in a dementia care center. We stood in the freezing cold gap between the tunnel and the door to the plane with the already mentioned sleepy child. The man who waited until he was boarding the plane to demand a seat change found someone else in his last minute seat and he had a mini-tantrum. “Someone’s in my seat. I need a stewardess.” Someone was in our seat and we needed seats grouped together, so we stood there waiting for him to move while he just sat there and stared at us. Finally, Doug convinced him to scoot over one seat. We sat down.

The stewardess asked that electronics be turned off until we were safely in the air. This was Evan’s cue to begin. “Can I have the iPad?” “Not yet.” “Can I have your phone?” “Not yet.” “Can I have your iPad?” Lather. Rinse. Repeat. “Doug, if he asks me that one more time I will scream.” “Can you wait until electronics are allowed so I can video you screaming?” I didn’t have time to give Doug the evil eye before the plane finally started moving. Seconds after that horrible noise which is the wheels ka-chunking back into the plane, Evan was asleep.

We landed and I scooped up Evan to carry off the plane. Unlike every single other time I have carried Evan while he did his imitation of jello, he was having some kind of dream that involved kicking legs, swinging arms and full torso twists. I wrestled with the sleeping child in the narrow airplane aisle for what felt like forever before the stewardess asked everyone to take their seats for a while longer. I don’t know how long we sat, but it was long enough for me to know what temper tantrum over a seat man does for a living as well as how awesome he thinks he is.

Eventually, we left the plane to a small crowd in the empty Knoxville airport buzzing about the reason for our delay. Apparently, one passenger insisted on listening to music on her smart phone the entire flight. Because she wouldn’t turn off her phone for takeoff or landing, she was arrested. Because she was persona non grata, nobody even noticed Evan’s sleeping attempts to kick other passengers in the head.

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