Bill and I were feeling pretty smug when we headed towards security at DIA on Saturday morning. We had spent a nice night at the fancy schmancy Westin Hotel at the airport because our plane left at 6 a.m. Even so, we got up before 4 to ensure we got through security in a timely manner.
But, you see, the reason we were feeling smug is because for reasons we still don’t understand,we were pre-approved by TSA. What did that mean in practical terms? We didn’t have to take off our shoes or belts, and our electronic devices could remain snuggly in our carry on luggage. Should be a breeze, no?
No. Oh, Bill got through in record time, but I was apparently giving off DANGER DANGER DANGER vibes.
First, I was “randomly” selected to go through the fancy x-ray machine instead of the simple machine that Bill walked through with no problem. You know, the machine where they see me in my entirety as I helplessly hold my hands above my head. Randomly selected. I should have headed right out to purchase a lottery ticket.
Except I couldn’t because they carried away my black and white chevron striped bag after it had gone through x-ray with terribly concerned looks on their faces. Like perhaps they had come face to face with a terrorist. Wearing flip flops and a cross necklace.
As Bill patiently waited (he had passed security), they began rooting wildly through my bag.
“What’s the matter?” I asked. “We’re looking for the CO2 cartridge you have in your bag,” he said angrily.
CO2 cartridge? I don’t even know what that means. Oh, I know what CO2 is, and I know what a cartridge is, but I also know I don’t have one in my bag.
“Well,” I said patiently. “What would be something normal that isn’t a CO2 cartridge but looks like one?”
And I swear to you that he said, “There isn’t anything else it could be. You have a CO2 cartridge in here.”
By this time, Bill has joined me, and I asked him what for what reason anyone would have a CO2 cartridge. “If you had a pistol,” Bill replied, looking at me warily. Which I didn’t.
In the meantime, Mr. TSA was still desperately searching every nook and cranny of my bag, going through every pocket and getting more frustrated by the minute. Terrorist suspects bring out the worse in TSA agents, and for good reason.
Finally he said, “Well, I’m going to put this through the x-ray again and find out where that cartridge is.
Okey dokey. Because by this time we were approaching boarding time.
He came back in a few minutes and said, rather sheepishly, “Do you have something in here that is a cylinder and has a key attached?”
Yep. Which I would have told him if he had answered my question about what else could resemble a CO2 cartridge.
The little carrying case attached to my key in which I carry Bill’s extra pills.
And so I was let go without having to spend time in a holding cell and the crisis was averted.
Here’s the thing. I respect TSA and would prefer they err on the side of caution. But so much time could have been saved if he would just have considered that what he saw could be something else other than a CO2 cartridge. I mean, seriously. An old lady in flip flops.