Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Grasshopper

I went to visit my dad and his wife a couple years ago in another state and during the course of the visit we ended up at an antique shop and I found a delightful cast iron grasshopper that intrigued me enough to want to buy it.

I already had an iron ladybug I picked up on a day trip to a tourist trap and I felt like this might be an interesting enough thing to collect that couldn’t be found just anywhere.

After all, you need to be careful letting people in on any collecting you do or you’ll end up like my mom, who got nothing but a variety of snowmen for 5 years straight. She got lamps and blankets, knickknacks and tchotchkes, cups, mugs, ornaments and other things that could never be explained and should never have been adorned with snowmen.

Anyway, when I travel, I only do the carry-on. Why? As much as I’d like to say it’s because I have bad luck and if any luggage is meant to go missing, it will be mine, I have to say that the real reason is because I’m a control freak. This is why I can never go on a cruise. They make you leave your luggage on deck and walk away. No way, mister boatman! That ain’t happenin’ here! (I’m like Gollum and that ring)

Ok, so … I refuse to check luggage so that means I’ve learned how to pack efficiently and take very short trips. So, there I was, in the airport security line, with my dad watching. Even tho I became an adult a very long time ago, he still feels the fatherly need to walk me to the security lane and observe me until I pass thru the other side and disappear from his sight. Ok, I can give him that.

So, as someone who travels about once a year and abhors anything that will embarrass me publicly, I make sure I am a very good security customer. I only wear gold jewelry on travel days as some silver can set off the machine. I always take off my watch and belt and have it stowed in my bag along with all my electronics. I even bag up all the cords and place it on top so it’s easily seen and quickly identified. I never have change or keys in my pocket and I take off my shoes and my jacket and have everything ready to be checked and scanned. I’m one of the quiet ones.

On this particular day I went thru my whole routine and sent my belongings thru the scanner, smiled at the screeners and said a polite hello and slipped thru the metal detector to await my stuff at the other end. As I was standing there, I sensed eyes upon me. I glanced up to see two stern looking security men looking me over and not in a ‘she looks like a nice lady’ kind of way.

It was that ‘OMG all my training is about to pay off! I think she’s a terrorist!’ kind of way.

The belt quit moving and both men were studying my bag that was centered under the xray machine. My heart leapt into my throat and I nearly choked on it.

This was my worst nightmare.

They did some sort of special top secret security man code and I was asked to step down to the end of the security row, to stand still and not move. The other passengers behind me were allowed to proceed past me and a security woman suddenly appeared and my bag was carefully sent down the moving belt to the end of the line. She put gloves on her hands and looked at me like I was a very bad criminal girl.

She very gingerly picked up my bag and placed it in a steel cage located at the end of the security area. She opened up the lid slowly and then proceeded to run what looked like an alcohol pad all around the rim of my bag. (checking for explosive residue?)

I didn’t know what the hell was happening. I was turning a very bright shade of red and I could feel a rush of heat come over my body. I was sweating and my heart was racing. I think there was a real possibility I could have pissed myself.

I had no idea WHY my bag was of such interest. Then, as I watched the woman slowly (and I mean s-l-o-w-l-y) taking each item out of my bag, it dawned on me what all the fuss was about.. as she pulled out that fucking grasshopper wrapped in a paper towel!

It never once popped into my mind that I needed to declare my new found bug.

You see, apparently, GUNS are made from iron. I would guess that the xray machine probably lit up all kinds of ‘crap your pants’ colors when my bag slipped into view.

Once the woman realized she wasn’t going to get blown to shit that day, she softened up and cracked a smile. The stern security guys still looked at me like I was a dumb ass and were probably suppressing the real urge to say “what did you learn?”

My blood pressure receded and I was packed back up and allowed to move forward into the gate area. I was never so embarrassed in all my life.

Then my phone rang.

In my panicked state of mind, I didn’t remember that my dear old dad was watching this whole thing go down. I answered the phone to hear a very amused chuckle.

He said, in between hysterical laughter, “what was that about?”

And I replied “that fucking grasshopper!”

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