Flying Home



Hoooo-boy. Have I got a story for ya'll.
You know when it involves the TSA that it's gonna be a good one. But don't expect anything kinky (shocker, right?) I did ALMOST get arrested, though!

Oh wait, firstly, watch a video on pies:



Yes. Give us more, PrettyBoy! I command it.

Anyway. My story (it's a long one):

So, I flew home on December 23rd, the day before Christmas. Perhaps not the best day to fly but I'm queen of getting shit done at the last minute. Also, I don't care for flying and ALWAYS have anxiety that I'm going to forget something important or miss my flight or something awful, even though it never happens.

Sooo. PrettyBoy and I go and jump in his car to go to the airport and PROMPTLY get it stuck in the snow. We try for awhile to dig and edge it out but we're stuck and my flight leaves within an hour. Luckily his dad shows up and angrily but hastily drives us to the airport. Being short on time our goodbye consists of "goodbye!" and a quick peck before I have to run to the TSA screening. Okay, maybe he ran back and smooched me once more but my point is, it was brief.

Now the trouble begins.
My things pass through the scanner with no issue. But for some reason I'm setting the alarms off. I insist my pockets are empty and am getting concerned when someone points out my necklace. I have a steel heart-shaped padlock that I wear around my neck at all times. One of the dungeon girls gave it to me and I never remove it anymore, even for showers. I DO, however, carry the key on my keychain for emergencies.

So, when we realize my necklace is the issue I tell them I need the keys to get it off. And for some reason they won't bring my keys back to me... and of course they can't let me go through to my stuff. So, they ask for a "female assist" to give me a pat-down instead. And then they leave me standing there in a corner for at least 15mins with my shit just piled up on the end table of the scanners across the room. Eventually I express that I'm worried about missing my flight and they decide since they can't find a chick to feel me up that they CAN give me my keys to unlock my necklace.

And that was my fatal mistake.
Alright, not fatal, clearly, but it made my shit pretty dire.

SO, I cheerfully unlock the necklace and pass through the scanner with no issue.
Except now they've had a clear look at my keychain.
Which means they've had a REALLY clear look at the pepperspray I've had on them for years...

Now, I'm used to LAX and such. And I've had incidents like this before and I've watched them even calmly take knives and bullets from people and tell them they'd be happy to let them pack these items into their checked luggage or they'll toss them out and everyone can be on their merry way. So when I got pulled aside I smiled and laughed, "Oh, I forgot all about that! No worries, you can take it, thanks!"

I was ready to take my things and go and lose my pepperspray when the TSA agent said, "Well, it's not that simple..."

"I don't know how it is in CALIFORNIA," he sneered condescendingly at me as he held my ID, "but here in Massachusetts you need a license to carry a concealed weapon like that and bringing it into an airport is a federal offense. So, now I'm going to call the state police and they may arrest you and they're going to search through all of your things and pat you down and maybe fine you, too."

Yep.
So, already late for my flight I begin to worry and apologize, shocked that this honest mistake is such a big deal. I ask if I can put my glasses back on and I'm told not to touch any of my things. So, there I stand, alone with my things piled on a table in front of me. My keys, tickets and ID are gone with the TSA agent who blatantly ignores me after that moment and I can't see. And like a genius I wore bluejeans that were missing the button, relying on my belt to keep them up. But now, my belt is directly in front of me but I cannot touch it so I stand holding up my oversized pants. Blind, missing my necklace that I never remove and clutching at my clothes 'insult to injury' abounds.

And I know now that there's no way I'm making it home for Christmas. I'm not religious, as you all know, but Xmas to me is a time to see all of my family, some of which I only see this once a year. And last year I was badly sick and missed out on seeing anyone. Plus I had no money and no phone, having left it (again like a genius) with PrettyBoy.

Sure now that I will not only miss my flight and never make it home for Christmas, but that I will most assuredly be stranded across the country with no way to contact help... IF I didn't end up in prison... I began to cry, overwhelmed and mad at myself for getting into this situation.

After being left to wallow alone for awhile I saw the police approaching me and I braced myself for the worst. Everyone in Massachusetts had warned me that "stateys" had a reputation for being mean and this overweight, older, clean-cut grey-haired man with his piercing blue eyes looked the part.

But the first words out of his mouth, in a heavy Boston accent were, "Why you cryin'? Quit cryin', yer fine." He conferred with the cold TSA agent about what was going on and then told me gently that I'd be getting something in the mail that I should respond to with my side of the story but that I could take my things and be on my way, and to have happy holidays. And to quit cryin'.

I was shocked. Here I'd been ready to be searched and treated like a criminal and now I was being let off without even being looked at funny. I mumbled alot of thank-yous and gathered my things shakily, still sniveling a bit and numb. The sympathetic police officer looked sharply at the TSA agent and said, "Hey, why don't you be nice to her? Quit scarin' the customers."

I made my flight.

30 comments:

Jerky said...

Damn. Assholes are everywhere and they all suck real bad

Anonymous said...

I think it's an airport securty rule that they have to be dicks.

megaphone said...

Speaking of pepperspray...

Back in 2004 or 2005, when the flying laws were just beginning to creep into being really bananas, I had a similar experience rushing home for Thanksgiving. I had lost too many bags to United Airways, so I had gotten in the habit of just tossing everything into an oversized carry-on backpack--which included my keys, which also had a travel canister of pepperspray on them.

I go through security, and WHA-BAM, they pull me aside. They begin interrogating me: "What do you have in here you're not supposed to have?" I have NO idea, I shake my head.

The TSA agent inspecting me digs into my bag, and pulls out...my deodorant. I kid you not.

"This is more than 3 oz. of a gel! I need to confiscate this."

I shrugged--whatever. Once I was on the plane, though, I was digging in my bag again for my sketchbook, and realized my pepperspray was on my keys! I was astounded. They were being so bananas about the new liquid/gel rules, they let me on the plane with a disabling weapon.

Nic said...

Yeh Mega, when the keys went through the scanner they didn't even notice them. It wasn't until I was waving the pepperspray in their faces that it was an issue.

Gypsy said...

That's... quite a story. But you know if shit had gotten really crazy I would have come and gotten you. I'm so sorry our TSA agents are fucking assholes.

s. m. said...

Glad to hear you made your flight! It's nice to see that there is kindness in the world even after being humiliated by dumb TSA agents. I like that officer! I would have been crying too. lol

Kiera-Oona said...

And the TSA is why I dont ever plan on flying anywhere....I would rather take a boat if i had to cross the ocean. I think the TSA has gotten way out of hand, and have got to learn to start treating people with a little bit of dignaty instead of insisting everyone is a criminal.....correction...TSA agents need an attitude adjustment to stop being douchebags, or there should be a new law, that Terry Pratchet in his books calls, "the Being Bloody Stupid act".

ali-kira said...

I fly a lot -- I often fly into the United States, and as a result I've become very much overcautious. This is a pain, clearly, but after far too many times of being seemingly profiled as someone to watch for, I've learned that one needs to take a lot of care as to how one travels. Traveling is a pain, but I do still love it.

A friend of mine once visited (I'm in Canada) and her pepper spray made it all the way into our country before being confiscated. It wasn't even noticed for multiple flights states-side.

akonite said...

I get special treatment whenever I fly. I have yet to visit my family without a pat down and observing my bags being unpacked and swabbed. This even happened to me while I was standing dirty and tear-streaked when flying out of Mississippi with no money after Katrina. The TSA going through my carry on was shocked at the number of paperback books I refused to let them put in checked baggage (my bag was over 25 lbs and I still managed to fit emergency clothing, cellphone, and my mogwai plushie)

Anonymous said...

I am glad you made it home. I work for TSA, and am most unimpressed to hear how you were treated. Please complain to TSA. You can post a complaint to TSA via the web at https://contact.tsa.dhs.gov/DynaForm.aspx?FormID=10. If you can remember, include the date, time (rough guess is better than nothing), airport, concourse, and checkpoint. This will help the folks at TSA headquarters track down the CC T.V. footage. The will also review the report from the TSA supervisor (yes, there will be a report), and the report from the law enforcement office. Noticed the name of the TSA officer that was rude to you and or his badge # that will be of great even better. I have been with TSA sense 2002, and I have worked as a Screener, and as a Supervisor at my airport, and there is no reason to treat someone so badly. For anyone else reading this. If you are treated badly by anyone with TSA please try to note their name and position (it is on their name plate on the uniform and will read like “STSO Doe” that is for a supervisor, and the number on their badge (each one has a unique number). Then proper action can be take to correct

GuyinaKilt said...

Oof, sorry to hear. Last time I flew was just at the start of the whole Body Scanner debacle, so I wore a t-shirt, shoes, kilt, and nothing else. I opted for the "Intensified Pat Down", and called my agent "Grope-Boy". He was not pleased.

bitflipper said...

"It wasn't until I was waving the pepperspray in their faces that it was an issue." (dryly:) Yes, I can see how that might change their attitudes towards the stuff just a wee little bit. ;-P~~~

Good evening, Madame Nikki; bitflipper, here. I've just recently encountered your comic and blog, and I have found them to be immensely entertaining, rather educating, and thoroughly enjoyable. I hope that you will continue to update with news of your travels and insights into your fascinating vocation, through the trials currently besetting you and through the victories that will come.

Good Fortune and Health to You!

Anonymous said...

I WILL NEVER BE FLYING EVER AGAIN!!!!!!!! I"D SOONER WALK!!!!

-Ann Archy

Anonymous said...

What an awful experience. It's things like that which have confirmed my decision to never fly again. I hope you never have to deal with something like that again.

I saw on an earlier post someone suggesting sending a complaint to TSA, and I thought I'd suggest something too; send in a letter of appreciation to the police officer and his commanding officer as well. Positive feedback is golden and unfortunately very rare.

Ukesagi said...

This (combined with being unemployed, flat broke, and downright terrified of going any more than a foot off the ground, especially not in a giant, metal shell that could come crashing down at any second) is why I never fly. I'll take a train, I'll drive, I'll even find a way to maneuver a boat through dry land, but there's no way in Heaven, Hell, Earth, or Albion that I'm flying. I'd rather not pay to be insulted, disrespected, molested, and told I can't go where I need to be.

Vera Wylde said...

New England Staties tend to be pricks (not just MA, but all New England States.) Many of them didn't make the cut for sometihng bigger like the FBI and tend to have chips on their shoulders. Sounds like you got one of the nice ones, nice that it worked out so well.

Heidi Wilden said...

I tend to fly southwest... and they are AMAZING....
Their Airports tend to be a bit smaller, but their security is very nice.
we had to travel this winter with the baby. They were extremely helpful! I've noticed the southwest airports are smaller, and kinder. Just my opinion

sorry you went through all that...

Katarina said...

Yeah, you should totally have a word with TSA, and maybe a lawyer.

Kate said...

May I please take this opportunity to apologize for the state of Massachusetts (where I live.) It's hard to believe one of the most "liberal states" would give you such a fucking hassle. I did smile at the ending though. I'm glad it all worked out, because you deserve a good ending. :)

Hope your holidays were marvelous, and in PrettyBoy's defense, Lime is TOTALLY a fruit. And on YOUR side, PIE SWIPE! Made my day! :)

ashley said...

I agree with the anonymous TSA employee who commented and Katarina and anyone else I missed. You should really consider filing a complaint. When I read your story, things didn't sound right, so I handed the laptop to my boyfriend for him to read. He's a former police dispatcher, and being from DE he's quite familiar with the laws around New England.

His words were, "This guy shouldn't be wearing a badge of any kind. Even as a mall cop. The agent was WAY out of line." And he then went through a specific list of all the things he did wrong, and went on to explain the jurisdiction issues when it comes to travel and what laws do and do not apply in such situations.

This fellow REALLY fucked up. If anything he needs to be suspended for some time if not kicked out completely.

Corvan said...

I'm glad you're back in sunny (?) California safe and sound, Nic. I just wanted to echo the suggestions to complain officially, and to write a letter of appreciation to the officer and his watch commander.

Feedback is crucial if we're going to reverse recent trends, and though it sounds trite, the police and TSA do work for us, and the motto of many police forces includes the word "serve". Sounds like the office you encountered used his judgement well, and saved you from an awful situation. Let them know you appreciated it, and let the TSA know you _didn't_.

When I worked in the Customer Service world, the general rule of thumb was every complaint represented about 100 dissatisfied people, and every commendation represented at least twice that.

PrettyBoy said...

Yeah, I knew about how MA doesn't allow you to own/buy/carry defensive sprays without an FID card. But I forgot she had it on her...woulda been helpful for me to remember this at the time. Weak.

Twyll said...

It's actually not just bad in America now. My family was traveling in Europe over the summer, and my mom actually got stopped by the Czech equivalent of TSA for her knitting needles. It turns out that you can fly in any European country except the Czech Republic with knitting needles; so she had taken them IN to the country just fine, but when she was going through security on the way OUT of the country, they told her she couldn't fly with them. >_< She's not exactly a threatening-looking lady, either (though my past boyfriends would disagree XD); grey hair, conservative dress, etc. She finally managed to convince one of the airline employees to let her gate-check her knitting in a separate bag so she didn't have to give up her expensive needles (because for some bizarre reason, in the airport we went through, there was a separate security passage right outside each gate. Which is another horrible story all in itself. Because it SUCKS when there's a security gate in between you and the bathroom.)

So yeah, not just bad in America, unfortunately. :/

Chevette Girl said...

I agree, you should send nasty and nice notes as applicable... good thing you got a cop who's a a softie for cute crying girls :)

SuperK said...

I know this post is mostly about the TSA molestation, but for me, the part that really resounded was around the 1:02 mark in the video. Is that an Indiana Jones hat hanging out there to the left of Pretty Boy? AWESOME.

PrettyBoy said...

Yeah, it's one of the Indiana Jones hat copies, the ones with Indiana Jones printed inside that don't actually look that much like the actual hat from the movie. I've had it for years and it was much darker brown when I got it, now it's faded a lot and looks a lot more like the film version.

xanthina said...

My experiences with New England & Massachusetts Staties was like the gentleman you met. Nice guys, a bit gruff, but genuinely nice.

Tyris said...

*headscratch* How can a thing be a federal offence in one state and not another? Federal law applies across the whole country, that's why it's called 'federal.'

Was this chap just clueless or is it us?

Anonymous said...

I have a folding tool that looks like a key but has a knife as one of the tools and didn't realize it til i got home after my flight that it was there.

distinctlyelan said...

Right after the gel/liquids orders were issued, I flew Norfolk, VA, to Boston, MA. On the way there, they searched my carryon (it always gets searched no matter what) and found my eye drops and tossed them. Both ways, the bag got searched, and it wasn't until I got back to VA that I realized my semi-assisted 5 inch pocket knife was in the front pocket. RIDONKULOUS. (By the way, I've accidentally flown with this knife twice since then. I fly a lot.)

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