Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Gift that Kept on Giving

It’s been a while since I have posted an airline blog. Remember, back in the day, I used to be really annoyed (and that is an understatement) by all the tribulations one had to encounter to survive a successful trip by a flying object in this world. And most times, flying is not so much a choice as it is a necessity for me.

But lately, I have grown kind of immune to all the “stuff” (for need to keep it a clean blog) one has to put up in the airline business. Oversold flights still boggle my mind. So does the fact that nowadays every airplane seems to make their own rules about what devices should be turned off and which should be off in a particular lag of any flight. So does the fact that on some planes coke is free, while on others it’s $5, when on others yet it’s non-existent. Not that I drink coke.

And I could go on forever.

But this blog is about my latest experience through the check-in (TSA) line. Lately, my husband and I try very hard to not check luggage at all, especially when we fly on weekend trips. $50 to check a suitcase (two ways) is insane. After $1000 or so for the tickets! So, during Thanksgiving, when we went back to Michigan, to visit his family, we took two carry-ons.  

His aunt gave us our Christmas present, all wrapped up prettily in a pink bag. So sweet! The directions were very strict though: we were not to open the gift, nor peek, till Christmas Day. We were to pack it in our carry-on, and put it under our tree when we get home, and wait to open it on Christmas.

You all know me well, and I do peek, however. Usually,  just on principle. But this time, I was afraid to go onboard a plane without knowing what’s in my bag. What if the TSA will have a quiz or something and I fail?! Jail versus upsetting the aunt, temporarily?! I love his sweet and well meaning aunt, but … I love my freedom more. Yeah, I sort of peeked.

I felt the package and I knew there was something like a set of mugs or a vase, with a plate inside the pink bag. I didn’t open it though – just felt the items inside the bag through the tissue papers.

So, we’re in the airport, in the TSA scanning line, and one of our bags gets called for thorough checking. I won’t go into the whole detail of how they picked my husband’s bag versus mine first, by mistake. The trouble was with mine! Mine had “the gift”. They finally picked the right one and they searched it item by item. Creeps me out, of course, but it’s the price you pay for your freedom, I guess.

Then, they find the pink bag. The little TSA man says nonchalantly: “Ma’am, I am looking for explosive powder. Or, maybe cocaine. That’s what the scanner picked up! ” Seriously! Smart scanner. NOT! – I think.

Explosives or cocaine?! Little ol’ me?! I am mum! He asks: “Ma’am, this is a gift, isn’t it?! Do you know what’s in it?” – now, WHAT do you think the right answer is here, when the man is trying to find bombs and drugs in your junk?! Anything you say can be and will be held against you – don’t you think?! So, I sort of said: “I think there are mugs maybe with something in them? But no, I didn’t open them”.

He is opening it right in front of me, and adds: “DO you want to know what’s in it?! Some people have no clue!” – well, if you’re gonna send me to jail, please do tell me what’s in it! Sure!

He finally found the compromising substance and it was … hot chocolate mix! The little sweet aunt has given us Christmas mugs with packs of hot chocolate mix in them. So much for no peeking!

He kept a straight face through the whole check, took every single item in my bag apart, and tested the powder (the actual powder, not just swipes from the bag!) for either explosive or cocaine, and of course … it came back with “hot chocolate” – no, I made that part up. It came back “legit”, whatever that means.

I was in luck because: 1.The man was nice and very patient. And  2.He was used to people traveling with unopened Christmas presents on them, carrying all sorts of illegal stuff, that they knew nothing about the insides of. He shared: “Some people try to board these planes with whole sets of steak knives. That’s fun – when I have to tell them: you check your bag, or the knives stay here!”

I tried to offer him to keep my hot chocolate, too, but alas … you can board a plane with that, so I got to still keep my carry-on and my “mystery powder”. I wonder what happens to hot chocolate mix when you mix it in with coke?! And I asked myself if he ever wondered about that?! Hmm …  

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