Monday, November 13, 2006

No T.S.A....You Cannot Have My Tampons!

by Loretta Nall

My trip to California the day after the election was my first trip on a plane in over a year. I haven't missed flying not one iota. I hate to fly. For one thing landing makes my eardrums feel like they are being sucked out with a shop-vac while simultaneously having ice picks driven into them. It's AWFUL! Not to mention that hurtling through the air in a metal tube at over 600 miles per hour 36,000 feet off the ground is a tad unnerving in its own right.

Not to be outdone in the unpleasant department the federal government has made airport security such a cluster-fuck that from now on I think I will just show up in my bathrobe completely naked underneath with some lube and a rubber glove for the untrained TSA agent that apparently just walked in off the street. That oughta simplify shit immensely.

Here is what happened this go round.

Not having flown in over a year I had forgotten the latest assertion by the government that Gatorade and other liquids can magically transform themselves into bombs and blow up planes. Other liquids apparently include mouthwash, Oil of Olay, shampoo, body wash and hand lotion. You see....I bought a bunch of travel sized goodies for my trip and packed them in my carry-on luggage just like I always do.

When my backpack went through the x-ray machine it was pulled and I got the usual "Who's bag is this?" from the TSA agent.

Dammit, it's five a.m. too early for this...what could possibly be in the bag to set it off?

Me: "It's mine"

TSA Agent: "May I have a look inside?"

Me: I wonder what would happen if I said no and if I really have any choice in the matter at all...
"Yes you can look in the bag."

The TSA Agent proceeds to paw through my personal belongings pulling out things like tampons, hair rollers, socks and so forth. He takes out my travel size Listerine, shampoo, body wash, my full size Oil of Olay, my chap stick and a few other small but costly items.

TSA Agent: "All of the liquid toilet items must be under 3 ounces and they must all be in a clear plastic bag if they are in your carry-on. You can check them and they do not have to be in a clear plastic bag."

I tell him I do not have a clear plastic bag and ask what difference it makes whether they are in a clear plastic bag in my carry on or loose in my checked baggage. He has no answer to that question.

TSA Agent: "Dem's jus da rules ma'am."

I am not sure there is any phrase that infuriates me more than that one. I'd almost prefer going deaf to ever hearing it again. Of course some smartass government official would teach it to the TSA agents and all other government nazi's in sign language so I suppose even deafness would offer no sanctuary. Likewise if I went blind they would force me to learn braille and tape that phrase to everything I touch....so screw it and just euthanize me now!

He tells me that the sandwich shop clear on the other side of the airport will sell me one for $1.50 but in order to go and get one I would have to go all the way back through security and come back again. Not gonna happen.

He tells me that I can keep all of the stuff if I place it in my checked baggage. That too would entail going all the way back to the check in gate with a bag that had things I did not want in checked baggage packed in it, waiting in line and having to basically do the whole process over.

The TSA Agent eyes my tampon box and says "This is too big."

Me: Oh bloody Christ please spare me from a public fight with a TSA agent over the size of my tampon box at 5 a.m. I really don't think I can take it.
"You can't take my tampons. I'm sorry but I simply have to draw a line there. They are not liquid...are you now pre-emptively confiscating things that might absorb liquid at some point in the future?"

He shoots me a "OK wise-ass" look but wisely leaves the pons alone then tells me that if I don't have a clear plastic bag for all of the items I will either have to place them in checked baggage or they will be confiscated.

I look at the stuff and decide to give it up....this time. There is no way I am about to navigate hell's gauntlet again over some toothpaste and shampoo. He takes my goods away. The total cost of lost goods was around $30.

Me and the tampons proceed to our gate. I sit down and begin to take inventory of my goods. After all of the fuss and the adamant claim that I could not board the plane unless those items were in a plastic bag or the plane would blow up I find in the bottom of my bag the matching conditioner for the shampoo, my tooth paste, my deodorant, my make-up and tubes of lip gloss. All of those items are also on the "banned-unless-bagged" list and I guess I have single-handedly proven that they are indeed safe outside the confines of a damn ziplock. No one was hurt and it didn't take a goddamned government study at taxpayer expense to figure out that these airport rules they change every week do not keep anyone safe whilst navigating the friendly skies....if for no other reason than an untrained TSA Agent overlooked half of the contraband.

I wonder what happens to the things they confiscate? I guess TSA agents and their families get to divy up the loot and live like kings and queens in toiletry heaven happily ever after.

God help us all! And I want my stuff back.

15 comments:

Amanda Harrell said...

lmfao!!! you tell 'em sister! haahaahaa!!! that tsa agent must've had a wife who's pms'ing to have left you alone about the tampons. omg, that's hilarious!!! :~P

http://www.myspace.com/ArtistMonday
ArtistMonday@hotmail.com
ArtistMonday@yahoo.com

luv ya chickie!! keep given 'em hell!!
~ amanda harrell

Amanda Harrell said...

lmfao!!! you tell 'em sister! haahaahaa!!! that tsa agent must've had a wife who's pms'ing to have left you alone about the tampons. omg, that's hilarious!!! :~P

http://www.myspace.com/ArtistMonday
ArtistMonday@hotmail.com
ArtistMonday@yahoo.com

luv ya chickie!! keep given 'em hell!!
~ amanda harrell

Loretta Nall said...

A friend of mine sent this response via email and it is just too good not to share

Loretta,

The stuff gets sold on EBAY and the like. You can literally buy small
pocket knifes, nail toe clippers, files, etc. in bulk by weight. These
guys are making some coin for sure. People buy it and then resell it at
swap meets and other vending markets. It's sickening and super
bullshit.

Whenever I fly I put porn at the top of my bag so that they have to sift
through provocative stuff -- I get such a kick out of it. One time a
woman asked to look through my luggage. I said "sure." She had to wade
through a half dozen porn videos with ridiculous pictures of naked
midgets and things on the covers -- I had a great time! If they are
going to do it, I may as well make it fun for me, right?

My plan is to go get a really big, studded double-ended dildo and travel
with that on the top of my luggage. I plan on putting vegetable oil or
something on it to make it particularly gross. I can't wait for my next
trip. Just some thoughts...

Take care,

Tracey Hayes said...

Interestingly enough, I also flew home from California recently, and while sitting at the gate in the Oakland Airport, found my swiss army knife in my purse. I have no idea why I put it in there, as it usually stays put in my luggage, and I have no idea how I made it through security with out losing it, but well, the truth is that I didn't have any shampoo or toothpaste for them to worry aobut, no clear plastic baggie or bottle of scope to examine. And there I was, sitting in the airport, armed and giggly! It's got a knife, a corkscrew (the most important feature) and some scissors, nail clippers, toothpick, ect. I kept feeling like I wanted to show people, my fellow passangers, the flight attendants, you know, "look what I've got- hee hee" but thought better of it in the end.

It seems as though these new regulations on toothpaste and shampoo could be deterring the security officials from paying attention to things like oh... uh.. actual weapons, maybe. Can you imagine the training they must have went through on this one? What if it's a not clear plastic baggie? what if your tampons really are to big? what if you put your swiss army knife in a clear plastic baggie? is that cool?

we just keep getting safer and safer, don't we.....

Blue Gal said...

Great story. Great writing.

I wonder why putting the liquid in a clear ziploc means it won't blow up?

Or am I being too logical?

Anonymous said...

my god if you had a toy gun from a 12' G.I Joe action figury like the kid in a news paper here in Canada did, no wonder you wernt trumatize
or other, give them what for, ouh here some thing to chuck back in there face where you aware of these news segments send these out to ever one you know please

http://www.youtube.com/p.swf?video_id=6yJF13BS-hE&eurl=&iurl=http%3A//sjl-static5.sjl.youtube.com/vi/6yJF13BS-hE/2.jpg&t=OEgsToPDskIMyD5HHiArtxA8pF3nfEez

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Vbf49kzWFw&eurl=

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IF6lmtKXghY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-tmxgjHQkc

Maria said...

I'm sorry for what happened to you. It is so ridiculous to me. You should have been compensated for the $30.

Mikeadeth said...

Spot on as usual, Loretta. I find myself in this situation on a regular basis travelling for my job, and I could not agree more with your pithy observations.

I myself ran into said liquids ban in the Vienna airport, where the maybe-twenty screener confiscated a $30 bottle of becherovka I unwittingly brought with me during the early days of the ban.

The most absurd part was not the government tax stamp clearly sealing the obviously brand new and unopened bottle, but that it was perfectly acceptable on the plane from Slovakia, but somehow transformed into contraband before the flight to JFK. Land of the free indeed.

adam said...

Suck sweeties when the plane is ascending or descending Loretta. Or just keep swallowing, which is the point of the sweeties. It's nicer to suck sweeties though. :)

Loretta Nall said...

I chew gum and use the 'earplanes' ear plugs with the ceramic core. They are advertised for decreasing the pressure discomfort...but they only seem to work for one take-off and landing and they cost about $7 a pair. Taking off doesn't bother me at all....it's the landing that is murder.

My left ear drum ruptured landing in Vancouver BC a few years ago. It was excruciatingly painful.

Anonymous said...

The TSA employees are probably in total agreement with us over the craziness of the regulations. Only the need to follow regulations or be fired makes them check bags in the first place. If you complain genuinely enough, they can be confident you aren't working for Homeland Security or the press and let you slide.

The problem is, stupid regulations that impact the innocent because of the actions of a few terrorists, are ripe for selective enforcement abuse. Pretty soon, they are enforcing regulations based on their own mood, the need to punish you for rudeness, or due to some dislike of who you are.

Meanwhile, the real bad guys have moved on to other techniques and we pay the price. It's silly.

Sandra

Anonymous said...

Can you post what airport this was?

Loretta Nall said...

Birmingham, AL airport

Yoga Korunta said...

Loretta, charge your losses back to George Bush's personal checking account. Then we'll learn how serious he is about toothpaste, tampons, and plastic bags.

Darryl said...

Oh, this has got to be the "creme de la creme" of travel stories from an Alabama woman. But I got one that will top that.

I am a from Semmes, a die-hard Alabamian, an American citizen, of East Indian persuasion. Mind you, I grew up in the backwoods of west Mobile County.

Anyways, I was in Trinidad (my parents' home country) flying back to Mobile via Houston on Continental. When I was in Trinidad, I had purchased a 1/5 of Fernandes Vat-19 Rum in the duty free store after checking through security. I was given the bottle when I was boarding the flight. Funny thing is that I had a 20 oz plastic Sprite bottle in my hand, but was told that I couldn't carry it through, but was handed a 750-mL glass bottle of rum to take on the plane with me. (Go figure?)

When I get to Houston, everything through passport control and Customs goes off without a hitch. (One of the perks of flashing a U.S. Passport.)

Mind you, I have that bottle of Vat-19 Rum in my Jansport bag. I collect my luggage and recheck it in for my "domestic" connection to Mobile. When I walked upstairs to go to my gate, there is a humongous security line. I put my Jansport bag in the X-ray machine.

A TSA agent pulls it aside and opens it. He then tells me that I can't bring "this much" alcohol on the plane. (Didn't I just bring this same bottle with me on a plane from the Caribbean, moron?) Not wanting to show my ass because I am the "wrong color", I made the bastard open the bottle and pour it out in the trashcan. Then I told him he can keep the bottle. Then he tells me not to forget the bag with the duty-free receipt on it. I tell him to keep it. And I walked off. (Am I supposed to keep the receipt for tax purposes? It was duty-free for Christ sakes!)

I look at it this way, if I can't have it, neither can he. Nobody was going to be enjoying my bottle of rum after their shift ends.