My Husband, the TSA Magnet

June 2nd, 2018 11:06 PM

Last Monday,  when we traveled to Las Vegas, I was reminded of how Dennis is a magnate for airport security. It’s been that way for the past 15 years or so.

Dennis’ checked luggage is searched on most flights. Mine has only been searched once during the close to twenty years we’ve been traveling together.

Dennis has been the recipient of countless TSA random searches. I’ve never had one (knock on wood).

When going through customs in Mexico, you press a button to determine if your bag gets searched or not. Red means search. Green means no search. Dennis always gets Red.

I’m convinced all this scrutiny, random or otherwise, is the result of something that Dennis did in an airport during the spring of 2002, before we were married.

This was shortly after the shoe-bombing attempt happened in December of the prior year. Air-travel security was still being redefined after 9/11. Tensions were running high in the airports in general. Many people were still afraid to travel by air, and those who did were often nervous and wary of their fellow passengers. Security was viligant. Very viligiant.

Dennis and I were, once again, traveling to Las Vegas. We had checked in, got our boarding passes and cleared security.  We were early getting to our gate, as we always are.  As we sat there waiting to board, I noticed a lot of security guards milling around. I didn’t think much of it. At first.

Within fifteen minutes, our little gate had at least ten officials — both security guards and police officers. There were a few suited men milling around, as well. They  looked like FBI agents look on TV. People were starting to look nervous, whispering to each other and looking around for something or someone suspicious that would warrant all the security. I was getting nervous, too, as it became clear that whatever or whoever was drawing their interest was in our area.

Little did I know that the culprit was sitting right next to me.

As a group of four sheriff deputies descended upon us, Dennis leaned over and said to me, “I know what I did. Don’t worry, it’ll be okay.”

That was it. The sheriffs politely escorted Dennis away to a closed door room near our gate.

I was astonished. What should I do? Should I call a lawyer? Should I try to follow him inside the room? He couldn’t have done anything that bad, could he?

All these thoughts were going through my head while several gates of waiting passengers were staring at me as if I was part of some evil plot. The older woman and her husband who were sitting next to me changed seats. I tried to be nonchalant as if this sort of thing happened all the time. Nothing to worry about. Nothing at all.

After ten minutes, it was getting close to the time to board, and still no Dennis. What should I do if they start to board the plane? I couldn’t leave without him, could I?

Of course I couldn’t. Not because I am noble, but because I realized that Dennis was holding both our boarding passes.

Another five minutes passed, and I was ready to start hounding the gate agents for information, when I saw Dennis hurrying down the hallway towards me. He was flustered, but he looked unharmed.

Our fellow passengers in gate area didn’t look happy to see him.

What had he done to cause such a ruckus?

He had hid extra cash in his sock and as he was walking to the gate it shifted. While I was in the ladies room, he took off his shoe in the hallway and adjusted his sock. That was it.

Apparently airport security saw him take off his shoe on video and out of an abundance of caution, called for extra security, detained Dennis, checked his shoes and his sock and eventually let him go.

Our flight left a few minutes late that day due to Dennis and we had four very large, very imposing “passengers” that just happened to be seated all around us. I used the quotes because these passengers weren’t waiting for the flight before or during Dennis’ ordeal, nor did they have any carry on luggage. They didn’t read, talk to each other or nap during the flight. They all just sat there, alert. Once we landed in Las Vegas, these passengers didn’t take the tram to the luggage area with the rest of the passengers on the plane. They never did show up at the luggage carousel, either. I am convinced that the airline bumped several passengers to put security on the flight in the seats around us. I have to say, I felt very safe flying on that flight. I don’t think we’ve ever been safer on a plane than we were that day.

I haven’t thought about that story for awhile until we flew out of Milwaukee on Monday. Dennis and I now have TSA precheck, which means we can bypass normal security lines. We don’t have to take out our plastic baggies out to be x-rayed or take off our shoes or belts. It’s almost like traveling pre-9/11 except for getting our bag scanned and walking through a body scanner.

However, two or three times a day, a random bag check is flagged on a precheck TSA passenger. And guess who got flagged? Dennis, of course.

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Here is Dennis waiting for a TSA agent to search his bag. He no longer hides cash in his socks.

Thankfully, this check didn’t require security guards and closed door rooms. Just a quick check of his backpack and we were back on track.

The sock story has become somewhat of a legend in our house and we laugh about it now. But to this day, I still always carry my own boarding pass.

June 2nd, 11:59PM

 

 

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