TSA: Pull laptops out of carry bags at airport or God kills a kitten or puppy

After all the hype about heightened airport security for Thanksgiving weekend, I was kind of disappointed at how easy it actually was to smuggle dangerous stuff onto an airplane.

I’m kidding. I followed the law to the letter. TSA officials, if you’re reading this, please don’t put me on the No Fly List!

But I WAS expecting it to be tougher to get through security. Maybe it’s because I left my burka at home, or maybe it’s because I look like the quintessential American girl next door. Or maybe it was because I was traveling with my parents way past the age when I should have been, but apparently I don’t look remotely threatening.

Which, as a teacher, I find surprising. I’m pretty sure I can be way more frightening than your average person.

I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find that the guy expediting the x-ray lines at Dulles airport on Thanksgiving morning had a sense of humor because A) I thought it was illegal to joke about ANYTHING at the airport and B) if I had to be working Thanksgiving Day, I’d be blaming anyone who crossed my path for making it necessary for me to be there. But at 7am, when I’m normally anything but cheerful, the guy running the security line had me cracking up.

Completely deadpan, he loudly informed everyone in line to remove all laptops from carry bags and to put each laptop in a separate tray to be scanned. “Each time anyone forgets to take a laptop out of a carry bag,” he bellowed, “it slows down the line and God kills a baby kitten or puppy.”

Because I’m a smartass, I asked him if there was any way to control if it was a kitten or a puppy that died. If it was a puppy, I’d definitely pull out my laptop, but a cat? I’d hide that sucker at the bottom of my suitcase with a dozen full perfume bottles!

By all rights, this probably should have been enough to sentence me to the dreaded scanner machine, considering that you can be arrested for saying the word “bomb” at an airport.

 No joke. I went to show my dad a link to funny photo bombs on The Huffington Post and the SWAT team came swinging in through the windows to throw me into a dungeon.

And if I’m being totally honest, I kind of WANTED to get put in the scanner, just to see what all the hype was about. And I REALLY wanted to see the picture of what I looked like in it. But apparently they won’t show those to you. And my dad said that if I asked to go in the scanner, he would kill me Dexter style (which apparently you ARE allowed to say at the airport, because the SWAT team was still hovering to make sure I didn’t say “bomb” again in any context and they nodded their approval when my dad said that). So I didn’t mention the scanners, just stared longingly at them as I put all of my stuff on the X-ray belt.

“No,” the security guy told me, still completely deadpan, “God picks whether it’s a kitten or a puppy that dies.” Then he began listing items that couldn’t go through security with us and what we should do with them. “If you have a cup of coffee, finish it. If you have a bottle of water, dump it out. If you have tequila, share it.”

I kind of wanted him to be my new best friend.

Sadly, despite setting off the metal detector twice with my jewelry, I was cleared once my hands, wrists, and neck were naked and avoided the full body scanner.

I took my time putting my shoes back on (I’d worn boots entirely because I thought they might give me a better chance of getting picked for the scanner), hoping to see if ANYONE had to go through it, but no one did while I was there. Which I think is kind of irresponsible of the TSA. I mean, I’d forgotten that I had a lipgloss in my purse that WASN’T in my little plastic baggie. If I did that unintentionally, what were people bringing with them intentionally? I TOTALLY could have had a chemical weapon in my bra or something. I didn’t. But I COULD HAVE. (But I wouldn’t. Again, TSA, I promise, I’m not a threat!)

But alas, I wasn’t meant to go through the full body scanner.

My experience was the same on the way back, minus the sense of humor. In fact, I was pretty sure that if I joked about leaving my laptop in my bag with the security guys in LA, I would have been dragged into a back room, beaten within an inch of my life, then shipped off to Guantanamo, Harold and Kumar style.

But they must have sensed my desire to be targeted for some additional screening, because right after the flight attendant scanned my boarding pass, I was pulled aside by a TSA crew seated at a table just inside the jetway and told to display my palms.

Of course, I had no idea what was going on, because I hadn’t heard of this particular type of screening, and thought they were going to say my suitcase was too big to carry on, because after Black Friday shopping in LA, it was stuffed far beyond the allowed size limit and was in peril of bursting, spewing clothes, shoes, and makeup over everything within a sixty mile radius.

 So I panicked, knowing that my dad would murder me and throw my body out of the exit row door somewhere over middle America if we had to wait at baggage claim (and in that moment it dawned on me that THAT is the precise reason why he insists on exit row seats, not the extra leg room).

But no, they just rubbed a cloth over my hand and analyzed it to see if I’d been handling any chemicals. Which, boringly enough, I hadn’t, so they sent me and my ready-to-explode suitcase on our merry way.

So even though I didn’t get to experience any extreme security measures, at least I made it to California and back in one piece over the busiest travel weekend of the year. Which I guess means that whatever the TSA is doing, it’s working. Even if they ARE leaking almost naked pictures of people on the internet.

Which, if it happened, would probably be good for my writing career, publicity-wise.

I’m so wearing an “Everyone Loves a Muslim Girl” shirt the next time I fly.

Although knowing my luck, I’d get a security guy with a sense of humor and be waved straight through. Oh well.

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I’m leaving on a jet plane… if I make it through airport security in time for Thanksgiving

Ah, Thanksgiving. Everyone’s second favorite holiday.

It would be everyone’s FIRST favorite holiday if we got to eat like pigs AND got presents.  But without presents, it tends to come in second place.

I’m actually pretty excited about Thanksgiving this year though, because my family is going to LA for my brother’s first Thanksgiving as a California resident. So I’ll be a guest Thursday night instead of the forced slave laborer that I usually am when my parents host it.

A normal Thanksgiving for me starts about a week in advance, when my mother tells me what I’m expected to bake (aka all desserts, bread products, and usually about six other things that I’ve never heard of, but am expected to have recipes for anyway).

Then the epically futile search for a non-horrible, non-dairy cornbread recipe begins. My parents keep kosher at their house, so none of the things I make can have even a hint of dairy in them. I’ve tried soymilk cornbread (horrible), non-dairy creamer cornbread (not so bad), chicken-broth cornbread (drier than eating chalk in the Sahara), and vegan non-dairy/no-eggs cornbread (AVOID AT ALL COSTS).

My parents aren’t super kosher, so they have no problem with dairy products making a cameo appearance in the desserts, but after the debacle a couple years ago when my Israeli aunt ran around making her children spit out my cookies because they were made with butter and regular chocolate chips instead of the paerve ones from Trader Joes, I now have to make my desserts completely non-dairy as well (or at least lie and say I did). Which means margarine instead of butter and no store-bought pie crusts.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is always a big reunion night, as everyone who’s back in town goes and hangs out with their old high school friends. But I can only do this if I’ve gotten enough of the baking for Thanksgiving done. Which, short of taking the entire week off of school and renting out sixteen extra ovens, is not humanly possible. So instead of me going out, my friends tend to descend on my place before THEY go out, not to see me, but to sample the goodies I’ve been baking. Which means I have to bake twice as much as I would otherwise.

This year, nothing is expected of me at all as long as I get myself to California. Which, because my dad is morally opposed to waiting in any line ever, is always an interesting experience. We’re not allowed to check bags when traveling with him.

Even if we’re going somewhere for six months. It’s strictly what we can carry, because if we have to wait for baggage claim, he’s going to leave us at the airport and we’ll never see him again. True story. I’m an expert at Charles de Gaulle Airport because I was abandoned there for a week while my dad enjoyed Paris. In fact, the movie The Terminal was actually based on my life. You’re welcome, Tom Hanks.

And because there could be nothing worse in my dad’s world than facing the lines inherent in traveling today, we’re leaving at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning instead.

My parents will be staying in a hotel, but I’m staying with my brother, which should be fun, because I haven’t seen him since he moved to Santa Monica in July to do his residency.

I’m NOT, however, looking forward to staying with his cat. If it looked like Hitler, it’d be one thing, but it doesn’t.

And I don’t care how cute he says it is, cats are evil. Even The Simpsons made a statement about that this week.

And nothing that’s on The Simpsons could be wrong. Just like no one who speaks German could be an evil man, right Sideshow Bob?

But overall, I don’t mind the idea of traveling. I’m kind of interested in seeing what all the fuss is about with the full-body scanners. Although if I get selected for that, I might just pick the pat down. Not because I really care if anyone sees me naked, but because it’d be the most action I’ve gotten in awhile.

I also happen to REALLY like airports. I know, I know, I’m weird. But I like people watching. Which is why I’m kinda bummed that we’re flying tomorrow, when it’ll be less crowded instead of today. That’s why I hate the terrorists so much. Not because of all of the new security regulations (honestly, if they want to dig through my bag, I don’t care that much. I can’t fold to save my life anyway—if they rifle through it, it’ll probably be an improvement on my packing job—although it IS annoying that I can’t bring a bottle of water or Diet Coke with me and have to pay six times as much to buy one after security… fail), but because I used to like going to pick people up at the airport so that I could sit at the gate and people watch.

Now, people watching at an airport is boring, because the only people at the gates are the people who are actually flying. And if they’re not greeting people or saying tearful goodbyes, it’s just a lot of staring at people as they flip through magazines, bang away at their laptops, and sip coffee. Watching paint dry is more fun than people watching at an airport these days.

I’m excited to see my cousins in LA though, and I’m looking forward to being a guest for once.

The redeye Saturday night flight home, however? Kill me now.

But I’ll worry about that when I get to it.

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!

And if you ARE having deep-fried Turkey, try not to burn your house down.

Because I don’t care if it’s the holiday season, you’re not crashing with me unless you cook and clean, in which case, you can move in as soon as I get home Sunday morning.