If the security personnel do their job properly, they just might cause you to miss your plane, thereby possibly saving your life.
One piece of advice I give to all incoming college freshmen is to always have a funny, lighthearted embarrassing story to tell about yourself. Icebreakers are popular in college, particularly the question: “share your most embarrassing moment.” It’s a silly question because no one wants to share their actual most humiliating moment to a group of complete strangers and relive the embarrassment. My real low points would achieve the complete opposite of breaking the ice. The room would fall silent, and everyone would feel awkward because deeply embarrassing stories are painful to hear. The only thing worse would be to say that you don’t have any embarrassing stories. (LIAR.) No, what people want is a humorous self-deprecating story of mild woe. I’ve had to answer that awful icebreaker question so many times, I have a few stories ready to go at all times. Today, I’ll be sharing one of them. Hopefully, it’ll break the ice.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time in airports, especially since I decided a 3,000 mile commute to college wasn’t too shabby. So I usually tackle all the TSA security stuff like a pro. When it’s my turn, I swiftly get my laptop out, take my shoes off, put my coat in a bin, followed by n! other steps (where n=6).
About 2 years ago, I decided to switch up my routine a little. Instead of printing out my boarding pass, I was going to be eco-friendly/tech savvy/a national hero by downloading the ticket straight to my phone. I also had just gotten one of those phone cases that lets you carry 3 credit cards on the backside of your phone. Since they ask for a form of I.D., I remember I put my driver’s license in the case, along with a debit card and probably a Starbucks card. Basically, my whole life was tied to that phone. I normally wouldn’t do something so foolish, because when it comes to traveling (and life in general), I tend to be paranoid. My mother instilled in me from a young age that the world was out to mug me, kidnap me, or do a number of other horrible things outside my realm of imagination. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, because that fear has kept me alive for 23 years. Anyways, normally my motto is: “if it’s convenient for me to reach, then it’s also easy for a thief.” But for whatever reason, that day I decided to live on the edge and see where that got me (Spoiler: humiliation, that’s where).
As I put my stuff on the luggage belt, I put everything in my pocket into a bin. My phone looked so open and vulnerable. My paranoia set in, and I thought, “Someone can easily take my phone if I’m not looking.” Right as my backpack was about to go into the X-ray machine, I grabbed my phone and put it in one of those side pockets for water bottles.
When TSA concluded I wasn’t carrying a b*mb on me (The * is in case it’s not okay to say “b*mb” in a blog post involving airports and the TSA. Google didn’t know, so I took my precautions because I was scared it might not be), I walked over to grab my bags off those rolling black thingies. After putting my laptop back in my bag, I reached into the side pocket of my backpack for my phone…
IT WASN’T THERE.
I tried not to panic. I checked the other pockets, my coat pockets, the bin again, but I couldn’t find it. Then, I decided it was okay to panic. My phone, my boarding pass, my ID, my debit card, and possibly a Starbucks card were all missing. Gosh, me from 2 years ago was so unwise in her youthful ways. Tsk, tsk.
After looking everywhere for it, I decided that the phone could have slipped out inside the machine since I had put it in that side pocket. I called over a TSA agent and explained the situation. He immediately told the person operating the X-ray machine that a phone was lost inside the machine.
Next thing I know, there’s 5 TSA agents looking for my phone. The X-ray person says she has to turn off the machine in order to reach inside and see if she could get my phone. This was a small terminal, with just one machine running, which meant I was now responsible for closing the ONLY line open. I’m sure everyone waiting to get through security groaned and silently cursed whoever was responisble for this tragedy.
Meanwhile, I’m freaking out. I’m running through all the consequences of losing my phone, and what I’ll do if we don’t find it. And by that, I of course mean, I realize I have no idea what I’ll do. I silently pray that the phone will magically appear in my hand.
My hands on my knees, I lean over to check under the luggage belt again. Dejected, I start to stand upright again. My hands slowly move from my knees to my thighs to my hips. And that’s when I feel a lump. My hand cups the hard bump, attempting to make sense of the rigid rectangular shape.
It was my phone. My phone was in my pocket the whole time.
I look at the TSA agents, still frantically looking for my phone so that they can get the line going. I don’t even know how to tell them to stop. I work up the courage to tell the first TSA agent I approached.
He laughs. He laughs really hard and somehow manages to say, “Now you have a great story to tell about TSA.”
“And so do you,” I respond, very embarrased. So so embarrased. All I wanted to do was get on my flight and fly 3,000 miles away.
A six-hour flight never looked so good.