my run-in with the TSA . . . OR . . . Frank J tried to make me a criminal

a phone conversation between one Frank J and one SarahK this afternoon:

FRANK J: hello.
SARAHK: i have good news and bad news.
FRANK J: um…. start with the good news.
SARAHK: the good news is that i didn’t get arrested.
FRANK J [confused voice]: ok….
SARAHK: the bad news is, i missed my flight, and i had to find out what my Christmas present is.

~~ cue Scooby-Doo mystery music ~~

running very late

i flew to Florida last night for a one-day trip. this is the last time Mr. Wonderful Dummy and i will see each other until January, so we exchanged Christmas gifts while i was there. by exchange Christmas gifts, i mean that he gave me mine and ordered me to wait until Christmas Day to open it, and because his gift is one that he needs to choose himself, i gave him a card and drew a comic to tell him what his gift is. he’ll pick it out (with my strong Texan guidance) when he comes to Texas in January.

Frank had put my gift and card in a gift bag, and i packed them in my suitcase this morning. of course, i was hoping with all hope (since it’s so important to him that i wait) that i would be able to resist the urge to open the gift for the next five days, though i imagined myself caving somewhere around Tuesday night. to increase the suspense factor, Frank has been telling me for two days that he hopes i don’t hate his gift. he says it’s not the traditional romantic guy-to-girl gift and that both of his parents had been unsure about it and had suggested he give me jewelry along with it. so he expected me to wait until Saturday with all of the build-down? right. but i was going to try.

i had rented a car in Orlando and driven to his house last night, so this afternoon, we said goodbye at Barnes and Noble, and i headed to the airport. i was running extremely late. now, the nice thing about flying AA out of Orlando is that people going to or through DFW have their very own ticket counter at the end of the ticketing center; i was thankful for this today in particular, because the lines for check-in were packed. however, when i arrived at the DFW ticket counter, there was a family of about 15 people, and they had about 27 bags to check, then one other man behind them. i had arrived at the airport about 30 minutes before my flight, so i was a bit unnerved when i saw the massive family unpacking and repacking their bags at the counter. ugh.

i knew i was cutting it extremely close when i jumped ahead and tried to do the self check-in, and the machine spat at me and told me i was too late to check in for my flight and to see the attendant. ok. the family was still packing their car seats and breastfeeding babies and whatnot; the nice man in front of me commented about the situation and about counting to ten backwards, and i mentioned that my flight was leaving in a half hour. he let me go ahead of him, so i finally got to the counter about 25 minutes before takeoff.

the ticketing agent told me there was no way i could get on this flight, because i had a bag to check. that’s ok, said i, my suitcase is small enough i can carry it on along with my backpack. she looked at my suitcase, handed me my boarding passes and sent me to the gate. “get there as fast as you can, i’ll call ahead and tell them you’re coming. if you’re lucky, you’ll get there before they close the airplane doors.” it was the most i could ask, so i thanked her and hauled booty to the security checkpoint.

we have to examine your suitcase

i was terribly disorganized, was wearing one jacket and had another strapped to my trusty Kelty daypack; the computer was inside the daypack, and i was wearing big, clunky teenager boots. oh, and a belt loaded with metal. i got through the first checkpoint and started running again to get to the bag/shoe/me screeners. a crowd of people behind me started yelling something about a chaqueta, and i turned around to find that my jacket had fallen off the daypack; i was beginning to weary and starting to wonder if i’d make my flight. the eternal optimist, i still held out hope, though my flight would leave in 15 minutes. ::rolls eyes at self::

i have a sore throat and a severe lack of exercise of late, so by this time, my lungs were on fire, my abs were burning and my throat felt as if i were eating sandpaper. yet i trudged quickly (can you trudge quickly?) to lane 2 of the screeners and took everything off. jacket, jacket, belt, boots, computer out of bag, daypack, suitcase, purse, go go go! i can make it!

i passed through and waited for my bags. everything came except my suitcase. i wasn’t worried, as i had plenty to keep me busy, redressing and loading the pack and whatnot. finally, one of the screening ladies looked my way and said, “we’re going to need to go through your suitcase.” “ok, no problem,” said Frank J’s unsuspecting girlfriend. i can still make it, i know i can. “there’s something in your bag, and we can’t tell what it is.” i, unaware that i was party to any wrongdoing, shrugged and repeated myself. “ok, go ahead.”

Rummage Lady brought my suitcase to the end of the aisle, opened it and started rummaging. everything behind me stopped. no one’s bags were x-rayed, no one was walking through the people checker, all was still. if she doesn’t hurry up, i might not make it. duh. the TSA lady first took out the pretty gift bag that Frank’s gift was in and set it aside. she pawed through the main compartment, then the side pocket, all the outer pockets. she shrugged and looked at the woman behind the x-ray machine. “i don’t see it.” X-ray Lady said, “it’s about this big,” and held her thumb and forefinger 4 inches apart. wha?? what are they looking for? what’s in my bag that’s approximately 4 inches long? i tried to help, which is a big no no, as you’re not allowed to touch your stuff when they’re touching your stuff. she held up various items to X-ray Lady as she rummaged: boots, curling iron, brush, nothing was the right size. i was worthless, as i didn’t even know what shape this item would be, so i was of no help. another agent came over, and Rummage Lady showed him what all was in my suitcase and that nothing matched the item they’d spotted with the machine. i remembered Frank’s present and said, “maybe it’s whatever is in that bag. i have no idea what’s in there.”

it’s bad, ma’am, but you’re not going to be arrested

Rummage Lady looked at me wide-eyed. “you don’t know what’s in there?” what. in. the world. “no, it’s a Christmas present from my boyfriend and i promised i wouldn’t open it before Christmas. it’s nothing bad, though, i’m sure!” Rummage Lady said, “well, i’m going to have to open it.” i said, “that’s fine, just don’t tell me what it is!” she agreed, and i looked away, down toward X-ray Lady. oh my. they have stopped down security. no one is moving through this lane. these people must hate me. what are they looking for? i noticed Rummage Lady walking toward X-ray Lady with the gift bag. no. he. didn’t.

Rummage Lady showed X-ray Lady what was in the bag, all the while careful to conceal it from me, which i thought was very nice. there was a commotion, as X-ray Lady and Rummage Lady looked completely baffled. they whispered many words to each other, looking in shock back toward me. i’m going to jail. then i’m going to kill Frank J. Rummage Lady took the bag to a center area where there were many Feds. oh my goodness oh my goodness oh my goodness, they are so going to arrest me! this is going to be great blogfodder! suddenly there were 5 or 6 TSA agents standing near me, and Trying Not to Laugh Man was standing in front of me. “ma’am, we’re going to have to send all of your items back through the x-ray machine. you need to take everything off again.” i don’t think i’m making my flight. i wonder if they have Wi-Fi in jail.

i disrobed once more, stunned and a bit terrified, and i noticed again all the people not passing through security, all eyes on me. that didn’t even bother me, as i was too busy trying to figure out what Frank had done. i looked at Trying Not to Laugh Man. “what’s wrong? what’s in the bag? no, don’t tell me! it’s supposed to be a surprise. but is it bad?”

“ma’am, it’s bad. you cannot take it on the airplane with you. you can take it, but you’ll have to check it.” huh? “uh, ok, i guess i’m gonna have to know what it is.” “yes, ma’am, you’ll have to know what it is, because the cops are going to come. it’s ok, though, you’re not going to be arrested.” !!! dead! Frank! dead! !!! “ma’am, it’s a part to a gun.”

my hands shot to my face, tears exploded from my eyes, and i started laughing that high-pitched nervous laugh that i learned from my best friend Sa. “OH MY GOODNESS! YOU ARE KIDDING ME! I’M SO SORRY! I HAD NO IDEA!” Trying Not to Laugh Man and Rummage Lady suppressed smiles and nodded in comfort. i processed information. “i can’t believe this, you know, he thought i was checking my suitcase through, and the only reason i didn’t is that i was so late for my flight!” also Frank’s fault. BAD boyfriend, BAD!! Trying Not to Laugh Man nodded and told me it would be okay, but i was going to be escorted from security. then i came to another realization. “hey, that means i’m getting a gun for Christmas! that’s awesome!!” they were amused by my excitement.

another TSA agent walked by. “what’s in the bag?” Trying Not to Laugh Man said, “it’s a clip for a gun.” actually, it’s a magazine. me? more crying and laughing and furiously wiping my eyes and short bursts of “i’m so sorry!” and “i’m so sorry i’m laughing!” and “hahahahahahaha!” and “this is hilarious!” and “this is so embarrassing!”

people chuckled as i was escorted away. thankfully, no handcuffs. Trying Not to Laugh Man took my suitcase and led me out of security. we passed a couple of Feds on the way out.

“what’s going on? what’s in the bag?” please don’t let him say ‘clip’ again. i said, “it’s a magazine.” they teased me, “National Enquirer? People?”

“i’m thinkin’ more like nine millimeter.”

i was right.

~~ cue Scooby-Doo mystery music ~~

i get more stuff

FRANK J: i’m soooooooorrry. i guess i shoulda told ya what it was.
SARAHK: hahahahahaha. ya THINK? come to the airport, you’re buying me lunch.
FRANK J: i feel like i should get you something else to make up for this.
SARAHK: no way! i want the gun!
FRANK J: i mean in addition to the gun. what kind of jewelry do you like?
SARAHK: i’ll send you a list.

the aftermath
and the evil fake sarahk’s illustration of the event

58 Responses to my run-in with the TSA . . . OR . . . Frank J tried to make me a criminal

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  4. Oh my goodness!!!! Hahahahahahahaha!! That’ll be a great story to tell the grandki…..never mind. So is that carte blanche on the jewelry??? Hmmmmmmmm……??? Pearls are always nice (diamonds are nicer but I’m trying no to be too pushy here!). Yes, the man owes you big time!!!!

  5. bwwaaaaahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!
    best. airport. story. ever.

  6. ROFL! Planning for contingencies is an engineering thing, oops. Planning around women adds more to the web, I mean flow chart (no offence). Enjoy your extra gift and let this be a lesson to us men…
    Fed Ex is good and takes some of the temptation to open the package too early.

  7. Jewelry, too? I knew it….the engagement ring is coming!!!!

  8. [holding my sides]

    That is the most fitting First Christmas Present story I ever heard. It couldn’t have been anything else, really. You two just kill me, honestly.

    Hey, though, at least they caught it. The stories we’re hearing lately, stuff like that seems to walk right through security.

    [snicker] Now they’re gonna add “cute blonde t-shirt babes” to the list of suspect profiles. heh

  9. This is really really funny!!!
    I just wrote one about my little trip through security but it was NOTHING compared to this!! I have an expired drivers license that put me in the “bad, bad passenger line” which did take forever and got searched over and over because I beep alot. Uh, not personally, I just have some metal pins in my ankle and an underwire bra. So the TSA guy started looking like a hawk with a rabbit in his sites and they searched, again, thru everything. Then he looked at me very very intently when he said “what is your name?” I blurted out my name and got my boarding pass, then realized he had been waiting to see if I would hesitate over my name. For pete’s sake.
    Go for the expensive gem of your choice. A sapphire might be nice! ;-)

  10. *gasp, gasp, gasp*! Owowowowow my sides really hurt!

    Oh, sarahk, it’s no fun being LATE for a flight (I’m always 2 hours – minimum – early, that’s how much I hate it), and going through all that with TSA must have been a major pain!

    Fortunately, the last couple of times I’ve been through Orlando, TSA has been quite pleasant…

    But FRANK! Frank had better get you a rock for a ring! Big rock. Huge.

    Bad Frank! No cookie! LOLOLOLOLOL

  11. Well, if Frank was thinking (based on earlier discussion) that you planned to check the bag, I sorta kinda understand his Christmas surprise, and it’s a nice one.

    If on the other hand he didn’t have any idea what you were going to do with the bags, then he might not have thought this through very carefully, and I’m sure he feels badly about it.

    Either way, you are golden. You’re gettin a new firearm for Christmas AND some additional bling bling because of the unintended consequences.

    VERY funny story. I travel a lot and I couldn’t share anything that good.

    And Merry Christmas to both of you, and to all of your readers! God bless us, every one!

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  13. Oh yeah, you own him now! Just remember to read the warranty first…

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  15. LOL!
    What an adventure!
    good one.

  16. In my defense, a Walther P99 is a really great gift :)

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  18. i agree, a walther p99 is an awesome gift. i’m quite happy about the gift.

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  20. This is a way better story than “I finally got on my plane, whew, and couldn’t help but look in the gift bag and lo and behold it was Frank’s new CD……”

  21. Oh what a great story! So funny, I wonder what will happen next, I can’t wait to find out.

  22. They got freaked out over a magazine? It’s a hunk of metal, completely inert. I could understand a barrel (if you got amm on you might be able to make a zip-gun) but a magazine?

    I could understand searching the bag upon seeing a 4″ hunk of metal (might be a pocket knife — wooooo — scarey!) but upon seeing it’s a magazine… I dunno.

    So, can I bring a gun SPRING onto a plane? It’s about as dangerous.

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  24. Uh, Frank? That’s a really good gift.

    If Sarah gets sent to the pokey, you can date me.

    Well, after the surgery. Unless you want to try Massachusetts.

  25. hah!

    That’ll teach you to …
    to.. commerical, won’t it?

  26. SarahK,i never was too keen to the idea of [Spidade can't keep secrets!],but now it seems FrankJ is trying to move you to Guantanamo Bay,Cuba or Leavenworth,Kansas.i’m just not sure about this relationship.

  27. spidade,
    Honestly, it was all her fault. Only through my quick thinking was she saved.

    Yeah, that’s the ticket…

  28. oh. oh man. oh good heavens.
    that was SO FUNNY.
    i used to say “how come this stuff always happens to me?” but now i can at least say “how come this stuff always happens to you?”
    by-the-by, after i dried the helpless tears of laughter, i turned to watson and narrowed my eyes and said “guess. what frank. got sarah. for Christmas” in that “you better pony up or you are in trouble” sort of way.

  29. Funny, I made it through DFW with a Glock 22 hicap mag in my backpack. Twice.

  30. BWAH! Glad you survived the extra time with Frank. :)

  31. LOL!!! Just think of it this way; you are getting
    the gift you wanted, you got a great blog out of it, and you’ve got something to hold over Franks head for a long, long time!

  32. Uhhh, so is Spidade letting the cat out of the bag, or is he just borrowing trouble over a move to sunny Florida?


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  36. …and the #1 sign that you might be a blogaholic:

    “oh my goodness oh my goodness oh my goodness, they are so going to arrest me! this is going to be great blogfodder!”

    (Those would have been Federal charges you know!)


  37. Check out my blog for more pro-gun ammunition as it relates to the proposed Florida gun ban. This is one battle that will not go away.

  38. Heh. At least Deb and I never did anything like that to each other. I just knocked her up the second we were married, and gave her morning sickness to ride across the country with. And made her move where it’s cold and snows.

    I think it’s so cool that you two got together similar to the way we did.

  39. Well, if there was ever any doubt, it is now clear that you two were made for each other.

  40. Interesting! I also enjoyed reading through all the comments. Never a dull moment, eh? :-)

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  42. I’m sorry, honey, but this was just too funny NOT to link to. I’m putting it up at my place tonight. Y’all crack me up!

  43. That is the funniest travel story I’ve ever heard. That will be a great memory for a long, long time.

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  45. Well at least it wasn’t nail clippers. Then you would really be bloggin W/ Martha Stewart.

  46. Excellent story. :)

    I’ve nearly got into trouble several times by realizing when I got within 20 feet or so of a metal detector that I was carrying something that I was NOT going to get through the metal detector with.

    I’ve also accidentally crossed the US border (heading out) with a loaded .45 in my glove compartment.

    I hate when that happens.

  47. Where you wearing the Nuke the Moon shirt during all of this?

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  51. Just what did they think you were going to do with a “clip”. Throw it at the pilot???!!! Of course, they confiscate 3 inch nose hair scissors with a 1/4 inch blade, so what do we expect.

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  53. Hmmm, “The Cautionary Tale of the Gift of the FrankJ?”

  54. this is AWESOME.

    If I were running the show, I would make it mandatory that every passenger carry’s a peace tool on flights. Lets see a terrorist dog try to make a move then. heh.

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