Airport security

So here's the thing. I will conceded that a terrorist can look and act like almost everybody else. I've been to the spy museum, I know that a spy can change hair colors, put in different teeth to change their smiles, change their eye color with contacts. Heck, they even look like a totally different gender with the right clothes and make-up. But I'm here to tell you, security people of the world, that no terrorist, ever, will don the costume of being a mother. I mean, I guess they could hide a bomb in a stroller and pretend it was a newborn or something, but by and large, it is just too much darned work to even pretend to be a mother, and do what I imagine needs to be done in order to blow something up, or drop something off, or whatever it is that a terrorist really wants to do. So please, security people, STOP SEARCHING ME AND MY 3 YEAR OLD! Jacob and I embarked on our "Family Fun Marathon", which began by spending the night in an Atlanta hotel room because we missed our connecting flight to Salt Lake. It was a miserable experience all around, but I did wake up the next morning hopeful that it would be a mildly uneventful day. Just get to the airport, get on the rebooked flight to Salt Lake, and everything would be fine. It started out ok, but when we got to the subway, (yes, we had to take public transportation to said hotel, and it wasn't the quick 15-20 minute trip the airport guy said it would be. Let's just say we went to bed much later than expected, and I'm still not sure I've recovered. Stupid airport guy.) there were fully armed law enforcement officials standing around, and they looked pretty darned scary. And then they informed me that I had been selected for a "voluntary" bag search, and they would have to search my stroller, too. You don't exactly say no to a man with a serious looking gun strapped to his chest, but c'mon, people, it's a Spiderman backpack on the back of a cheap $8 umbrella stroller from Walmart--what exactly do you think it has in it? But I let them rifle through my Mother's Bag 'O Crap, and we went on our way. We finally get to the airport, and I get into the ridiculously long security line, only to be told that I had, once again, been selected for another random security search. What do I have to do to convince these people that MOTHERS WITH SMALL CHILDREN ARE NOT TERRORISTS! The most toxic thing we have in our bags is sour chocolate milk that is congealing in our sippy cups because we've been in the airport way past the point of any normal human endurance. Please, just let us be! Jacob starts up a steady stream of pathetic whining, because he had, after all, only had 5 hours of sleep the night before, and I said to the man standing next to me, as we waited to be screened in a small, closed off, extrememly claustrophia inducing glass hallway, "I swear, I'm about this close to just completely flipping out!" He said, "Well, don't flip out here. They'll just think you're a loonbat and it will make everything worse. Just keep it together until you get through security, and then you can flip out all you want at the gate." Good advice. The man with the white gloves decided there was nothing inherently dangerous about runny string cheese, smushed peanutbutter sandwiches, and crumpled granola bars, and finally sent us on our way. We ran to the gate, only to be told that the plane was at a different gate in a different terminal. We ran over there, found the gate, got our seats assigned, and got on the plane, although it took some creative juggling and some generosity on the part of other passengers for me to actually sit next to my own child. And it wasn't until we landed in Salt Lake, when the whole experience was basically over, that I finally lost it. Felt pretty good, actually. So please, I understand the need for national security, and the real threats that face our nation. But don't bother the mothers, just don't. We are not terrorists.We are just women who are doing our best not to flip out.


Blogger dede said...

It happens to me everytime I fly as well. What is the deal?

I remember when I moved to NYC. My husband had gone out a week earlier to find us an apartment so I was flying the redeye alone with my 8 yr old, 3 yr old and 4 month old children. They pulled us ALL aside and searched us all.

Yes, I am a terrorist and I have planted bombs on all my children! Unbelievable.

7/30/2005 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

The worst is when you've got a child (finally!) sleeping in the stroller and you have to go through security and they make you WAKE UP said sleeping child so you can put the stroller through the stupid x-ray machine. (I asked if they could hand-scan it and they said no, it had to go through.)ARGH. You think these people never had kids.

7/30/2005 09:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Susan M said...

Airport security is ridiculous. But don't forget there has been a female suicide bomber who pretended to be pregnant, and the baby was actually a bomb.

I've been through security only a couple times since 9-11, but everytime I've had my diabetic syringes in my purse and never been hassled. I keep wondering if they searched my purse and saw them if it'd be a problem.

7/30/2005 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Claire said...

Heather, too bad you don't have the contact info for all your blog-readers on you when you traveled, we could have taken you to the airport at least! Sorry you had such a crummy Atlanta airport experience...

7/30/2005 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa M. said...

Yipes. That is so irritating!

I went to the social security building the other day and they searched my stroller and even poked a straw in the can of baby formula.


7/30/2005 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right after 9-11 when security was SO TIGHT...I heard a story of security making a woman taste each bottle of her own pumped breastmilk (I think she had 3). What would you have done?

7/30/2005 10:34:00 PM  
Anonymous claire said...

I don't see why this created such a brouhaha. It was HER milk... not a stranger's. I can't imagine she really hadn't already tasted her own milk.

Human milk is something like 50% lactose, so it tastes pretty good.

8/01/2005 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Andrea Wright said...

This reminds me of a Dave Barry article. After 9-11 and the intensified security he flew somewhere with his wife and baby. The article was hilarious. He wrote about the pointlessness of searching people traveling with babies because who would have time? Did anyone else see that?

Heather, I feel your pain. IMHO, there is nothing worse than traveling with young kids even under the best of circumstances which you certainly didn't have! I'm glad you finally got to have your breakdown -- it was well deserved!

8/01/2005 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Yes, I've noticed the whole tenor of airport security varies by airport. For example, at some airports they actually allow you to wait five minutes in your car at the "passenger pick up" area in an attempt to pick up your passengers. At other airports, they come after you with baseball bats and a citation pad if you wait more than about eight seconds. At some point terrorists may be preferable to "security personnel." Perhaps they should be relabelled "Federal Travel Disruption Officers."

8/01/2005 01:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have two small children and traveled with them accross the country a few weeks ago. Although we were not searched I can't imagine having added problems to an already tiring ordeal. Good luck on your flight back.

8/02/2005 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Last fall I had to go to Houston for 2 WEEKS without the hubby and kids...I had an 8am flight so I had to be there by 6:00 to get through security, which just added insult to injury. Apparently a 30ish year old pseudo-yuppie pale as a ghost puffy-eyed mommy in sweats crying as she hugs her family goodbye is enough to "trigger" a security search. Crying as I walk away from my family throws up a red flag?! I wasn't hysterical, I was just crying. Come on people. If a terrorist is going to their Allah because they're a *martyr*, are they going to be crying? Do you remember seeing any of these people crying and hugging their kids in the security video camera clips on the news? I shouldn't have to tell you about some of the people that got to stand and watch me go for my search, without being searched themselves.

8/03/2005 12:32:00 AM  
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10/08/2005 12:17:00 AM  
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10/08/2005 12:27:00 PM  

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