The real rub with air travel

Did you know? To the TSA, everyone is suspect
By Paul Viau | Nov 03, 2011
Photo by: File photo CHEEKY CHECK-IN — Air travel is getting handier all the time.

I am an infrequent traveler, and the airlines and the TSA are making me less of a fan.

Now, I don’t mind most pre-travel procedures. Men are taught from childhood to empty our pockets on command. And I have learned to live with the embarrassment of shoe removal (Are there holes in my socks?), the manhandling of my electronics and the removal of my belt.

But I must admit, the older I get (and the more I fly) the more interested I am in Sansabelt slacks. But I am waisting (No pun intended) space with this intro.

You need to hear about my latest TSA experience at the mellowest of all local airports — Asheville Regional. My wife and I were on our way to Baltimore to see our new granddaughter, Zoe Olivia. We arrived at the airport hours before our flight with the requisite two large suitcases, carry-ons, coats, books and multiple iPods. (We were traveling so lightly because we would only be gone for the weekend.)

All was well with the world when upon presentation of my boarding pass and ID, I was “randomly selected” for a new screening procedure. No big deal (I thought). They rubbed the tops and bottoms of my hands with a felt pad and used a machine to analyze it. Unfortunately for me, the alarm went off.

It seems I had tested positive for chemicals used in the making of (the “B” word).

I was quickly whisked away to a special section of the TSA maze where they had me “really empty” my pockets — cell phone, change, wallet, etc.

“Are you sure your pockets are empty?" they asked.

That’s when I remembered the large roll of bills I had in my rear pocket.

“I can explain ... it’s tip money," I said.

They raised their eyes. To the TSA, TIP stands for “Terrorist Incentive Plan,” and my wad of ones identified me as a low-level operative.

I was then removed to a special room where two TSA specialists “had their way" with me. Actually, the agents took great care that I was completely comfortable, as they painstakingly explained the procedures … then patted, poked, pressed, rubbed and reassured me, all by hand.

During this time, I was (as usual) talking non-stop trying to figure out why I had been “randomly selected.” That’s when they asked me what kind of work I did?

“I work at a golf course," I explained.

“Have they applied any fertilizer or chemicals recently,” they asked?

“Lime,” I replied.

EUREKA! It seems that lime is a nitrate, much like what Timothy McVeigh used in Oklahoma City bombing.

I was then released to the custody of my wife, who had been supervising the thorough search of my carry-on luggage. When I told her my story, she laughed … then chastised me with a common outcry around our house — Wash your hands!

As soon as I got my gear (and myself) together, I did wash my hands — thoroughly.

I don’t want to catch lime disease.