As has been said many times before, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) doesn’t have the best of reputations. Of course, they try their best to communicate things, such as the procedures for bringing medications through security, what they’ve done to help those with Autism Spectrum Disorder feel more at ease in airports, and even updates to the TSA app to make it more functional and user-friendly. But between travelers who don’t read up on what they need to do before they can fly and some TSA workers who may not be aware of the fine line between using and abusing their power, it makes for more horror stories than happy ones.
Well, I have a happy TSA story.
Pre-September 11, 2001, Joe and I went on vacation…somewhere. I don’t remember where and honestly, it really doesn’t matter. But it was during those halcyon days when you could bring lots more things in your carry on than you could post-9/11. Anyway, I brought a bottle of perfume on the trip and unfortunately, I couldn’t find it when I got home. I was pretty upset because it was a limited edition scent that was already a couple of years old and not something I was going to be able to replace without spending a lot of money on eBay (yeah, I was a very early adopter of eBay. Been a member since 1997 or so). But I unpacked everything and checked and re-checked every nook and cranny of my knapsack, carry on and checked luggage and nope, it wasn’t there. My perfume was gone and I guess I had left it at the hotel or something. I called the hotel so they could be on the lookout, but didn’t expect them to find it. Nor did they ever call me back to say they had. Sigh.
Fast forward to the weeks and months after 9/11, and everyone was still much very on edge when flying. As in, “Watching every single person who got on the plane and heaven forbid there was someone boarding who you thought could possibly be a terrorist” – your heart would go into your throat. However, Joe and I still flew to our intended destinations, figuring if any time was the safest to fly, it was during those very early post-9/11 times, when security was EVERYWHERE. Packing was a little more complicated because we had to contend with all kinds of new rules for what we could and could not put in our carry-on luggage in the interest of our safety, but we managed.
Fast forward even more, and after terrorists attempted to detonate liquid explosives carried on board a bunch of flights from the UK to the US and Canada in August 2006, the now-formed TSA changed the rules regarding bringing liquids in your carry-on and personal luggage – at first none were allowed, and in late September of the same year, the “3-1-1 for carry-ons” (3.4 ounce [100 ml] containers in a 1 quart bag, 1 bag per passenger) rule went into effect. Anyway, Joe and I already had a trip planned for early September 2006. We were then, as we are even more so now, seasoned travelers, and knew how to pack efficiently and appropriately.
So we went through X-ray and my bag was earmarked to be checked. OK…happens sometimes. The female TSA worker pulled me and my bag aside and said, “Ma’am, you’re not allowed to have liquids in your bag.”
Me: “Oh yeah, I know. I don’t have any liquids in my bag.”
TSA Lady: “Our scanner says you do.”
Me: “No I don’t. I packed my own bag and I know the rules. I don’t have any liquids in there.”
TSA Lady: “Well, I’m going to have to check your bag.”
Me (Still kind of perplexed because I KNEW I hadn’t packed any liquids): “OK.”
So I stood there while she pretty much took everything out and looked through every nook and cranny of that carry on bag and didn’t find any liquids (being me, in my head, I was saying, “See? Told ya so!”). Until she saw a zippered compartment I forgot the bag even had. And she unzipped it and put her hand in and pulled out…my long-lost perfume.
Me (jubilantly): “MY PERFUME! You found my perfume! I lost that, like, FIVE YEARS AGO and thought I would never see it again! I can’t believe you found it!”
And then reality hit.
Me (suddenly crestfallen, probably with some unintentional puppy dog eyes): “And…it’s a liquid. And we can’t carry liquids in our carry-on. And you’re not going to let me bring it onto the plane, are you?”
And do you know what? That angel of a TSA lady put the perfume right back where she found it, told me to make sure to NOT have it in my carry-on next time, and told me to have a good flight.
Me (huge smile): “YES, ma’am! THANK-YOU, ma’am!”
I swear, I would have kissed her, if I could.
I don’t use perfume very often. In fact, I still have that very bottle. It makes me smile when I look at it. 🙂
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary