Thursday, October 28, 2010

Letters from my vacation Part 1

Dear TSA,

I understand what you are doing, and I support you, really, I do. But I don't understand your, and I use the word loosely, logic.

On your website, you state the following:

When traveling with your infant or toddler, in the absence of suspicious activity or items, greater than 3 ounces of baby formula, breast milk, or juice are permitted through the security checkpoint in reasonable quantities for the duration of your itinerary, if you perform the following:

1. Separate these items from the liquids, gels, and aerosols in your quart-size and zip-top bag.
2. Declare you have the items to one of our Security Officers at the security checkpoint.
3. Present these items for additional inspection once reaching the X-ray. These items are subject to additional screening.

Fine, I did exactly this. I separated out my baby food into a gallon zip-top bag and alerted officials. In Charleston, my items were then taken out and scanned individually with the little wand and the tiny squares of cloth, I was asked whom I was traveling with, and the husband was then patted down...? Okay, fine, but why the husband? Makes no sense, if the baby food is really the suspicious substance. But whatever, this little escapade took very little time, even though it left my 2 1/2 year old wandering around behind security by himself since the husband was holding him at the time he was told to step over for further inspection, and I was holding the baby and gathering up our things just then. No big deal, just a tad aggravating.

Cut to two weeks later, when I was traveling home alone with the boys. In Salt Lake, I did exactly the same thing, letting the officials know about my bag of baby food. I have a very healthy 8 month old who eats between 4 and 6 jars of baby food a day, so I had packed 3 along with 2 individual containers of applesauce, which could double as emergency rations for Toddler J in a pinch. In addition, I was using some tiny frozen juice boxes to keep Baby E's antibiotic cold (more about his double ear infection later!), which could also double as J rations when needed. This troubling package got all of us sent to a glass room for a pat down. They let me continue to hold Baby E but barked at Toddler J both when he tried to sit down in the chair in our little glass room and when he wandered over to the door while I was being examined. Because it's TOTALLY reasonable to expect a 2 1/2 year old stand still in an aquarium room for an indeterminate amount of time, however short the duration.

Pat down over, I was released to collect my things, which I did, putting E in the stroller and holding onto J's hand while we got our shoes back on. But where was my bag of baby food? The man who took it was gone, and no one else told me anything until I finally flagged down a man in a suit with a badge, whom I assumed was some sort of supervisor. He directed me to another area where my food was being scanned. And when I say scanned, I mean meticulously, painstakingly slowly, with some sort of device being run slowly over every single surface of every single item in my plastic bag while I stood there holding J's hand and pushing E back and forth, hoping he would forget that it was time for his bottle. Many minutes later (who knows how many, but long enough that we were all antsy), one of my containers of applesauce was deemed suspect and tossed without a word. Just one, not two.

In the meantime, I was told I would need to be patted down. But, I said, I just was, over there, in that glass room. Do I need to do so again? Who did it, they asked? Umm, some woman? I said. A woman with dark hair and a ponytail? (I thought it was a miracle I remembered that much, honestly.) What? they said. Who? Her, I exclaimed as she walked by, randomly. Did you examine her, they asked. Yes, she confirmed. Did you do a thorough exam, for someone who has questionable items, including her legs? Umm, no, she said. So she told me to let go of J and put my arms out and get patted down yet again, this time including my suspicious legs.

Eventually, we were done and off. But, sheesh, the whole process took so long and was so arduous. And really, I don't understand any of it.

Yours in confusion,


1 comment:

Betsy (Eco-novice) said... I will be traveling by car only for the next 10 years.