Saturday, June 27, 2015

How to avoid the pat down at the airport

I can sum that answer up in two words: be incompetent.

Other words that also fit: slow-minded, slow-wit, constantly confused, unable to discern foreign accents, etc. Really, that’s all there is to it. The more confused or na├»ve you appear, the less likely you’ll have to go through the pat down at security.

There’s a catch though. There’s always a catch. This isn’t something you can just fake. You can’t pretend to be slow. The TSA or NSA or whatever-S-A people at the airport can easily detect fakers. That’s sort of, you know, their job.  If you’re hiding something, they’ll figure it out. In order to avoid that pat down, you have to honestly confused about everything.

This first time that this happened was when we first went through security at the Salt Lake City airport. Since I was holding Arrow, they had me go through the side way, while Taylor did the X-rays and whatnot. I was led to a small table, where they asked me to show hands. I complied, but asked why that was necessary. The security man told me that's how they check if I have been working with any explosives. I widened my eyes and gasped and asked if people seriously did that sort of thing.

Okay, obviously, there are terrorists and other people who like to play with things that go boom. But what I had mistakenly imagined was a scene from a book called Unwind. In that book, there are people called "Clappers". Clappers have injected themselves with explosives, making themselves a human bomb. To ignite the explosives, they only have to rapidly clap their hands.


That's what I thought the guy was referring to. 


The security man gave me the strangest look. I could tell he was debating whether or not I was seriously surprised or if I was a terrible actor. I think he figured it out when he said "Okay, other hand" and I gave him Arrow's hands. I guess it's a no-brainer that babies wouldn't play with explosives, either.


The second time this happened, we were checking into the Paris airport. We thought to go outside to check out the scenery, but it looks totally sketchy out there, so we went back inside. Going back through was way more difficult than SLC. The baggage checker and I had this conversation:


Baggage Checker: Le adjfkaldjfa;jdfka?

Chaun: Uh... Do you speak English?
BC: (in a super heavy French accent): Do you have any electronics in here?
Chaun: Nope.
BC: No? No iPad or anything?
Chaun: Ha. I wish. I forgot mine at home.
BC: What?
Chaun: No. No iPads.
BC: iPads have to go in this box. They can't go through the machine. 
Chaun: No iPads here.

I started to go through the X-ray thing with my baby, but then I was yelled at to stop. I felt like I was back in elementary school getting in trouble by the teacher for talking. I felt the sweat on the back of my neck.


BC: No. Strollers go through machine. You go through side with baby. (I won't even write what I thought she said because it      really was just jumbled French/English sounds mixed together)

Chaun: What?
BC (starting to get annoyed and jabs the air with her finger): Go there.
Chaun: ... what?
Taylor (takes Arrow out of stroller): She wants you to go through the side with the baby.

I carry the babe through the side, and grab the stroller as it comes through. Just as I buckle Arrow in her seat, I'm called at from another security thing. Oh boy.


Baggage Checker 2 (also in heavy accent): There is an iPad in here. Go back to other side.

Chaun: What?

I took a step to go return through the gate with Arrow, but I was stopped and told to leave the baby behind. Um, no.  After a brief mental debate, reason eventually came to mind, and I realized she wasn't likely to be kidnapped in security. Plus, Taylor was finally coming through on his own.


After coming back through the gate, I asked again, "Okay, sorry, what?"

BC2: I said, there is-
Chaun: Really? That's awesome! I thought it was left at home.
BC2: What?
Chaun (digging through luggage): Oh... yeah... I don't see it. I'm sorry.
BC2: It is in the middle.
Chaun (practically dumps out all the clothing in the suitcase on conveyor belt). I'm sorry, but I don't see it here. 

At this point, I could just feel the annoyance of the baggage checkers. I felt like the dumbest American to go through this security gate. I search the suitcase again.


After eternity plus one passes, I finally find the iPad in a top pocket. Sweet blessed mercy. "Ohhh. Yeah. Okay. So sorry." I dashed back through the side gate to get back to my baby. 


At this point, they just let me go. No pat down, no X-rays, nothing. I guess they figured I was too dumb to understand what an iPad was, so there was a pretty good chance that I wouldn't be able to carry out any terrorist acts. They were probably right. :)

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