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Smelly Socks: Taking care of business

July 24, 2014 at 2:24 a.m.


The Transportation Security Administration does not have an enviable job; it also seems to annoy most people. Complaints about long lines, imposing checks, invasion of privacy and confusion on whether profiling really does exist haunts the TSA.

For the record, I support, understand and appreciate the TSA. I realize it serves an important purpose of which our safety is its chief concern. I can also prove that profiling does not exist.

Before an airport visit enters our picture, I check all of the current rules and regulations, remind Jamison that since he is 10 years old, he doesn't have to take his boots off and remind everyone else who is over 12 that they have to. We adamantly follow the 3-fluid-ounce and clear quart-size bag rule.

I prepare to make the security checkpoint in the airport seamless so that we can make our flight. For some unexplainable reason, we always seem to nearly miss our flight.

This results in an embarrassing sprinting scene through the airport. It is not a pretty picture to see all four of us running, clumsily dragging our carry-on suitcases behind us, since my frugal husband refuses to pay for checked bags.

Popsy once remarked that Austin and Jamison were born with "wheels underneath them." When Jamison was 6 months old, he took his first plane trip to Virginia to see John's parents, and every year since that finds us repeating a trip to the East Coast.

Austin and Jamison are well-versed in airport and airplane etiquette, and although the takeoffs and landings make them a little nervous, really nothing else about flying excites them.

While the boys are blase about flying, the security checkpoint always seems to stir them up. Since we're heading to Virginia to see my in-laws, I try to take special pains to look my very best and "fresh as a daisy" when we arrive at Norfolk International Airport.

I try to fix my hair just so and wear a nice outfit, and somehow, I seem to always choose completely unreasonable but cute shoes. For this trip, I chose to wear a brightly colored, long, loose-fitting maxi dress to the airport and what I deemed as the "most perfect wedge shoes ever created."

I have never thought that I look anything like a terrorist as they are portrayed on the television shows we usually end up watching. But unfortunately, as we were waiting in the security line, I noticed I was being unduly scrutinized. I suddenly felt a wave of doom pass over me - the certain feeling you get when you know something is just wrong. The TSA agents seems to lick their lips like coyotes when they see their next meal.

We have the order we go through the security check line down to a science. Austin leads our line; I go next, followed by Jamison, while John pulls up the rear of our group. As soon as I came through the little doorway to nowhere that everyone has to pass through, I was greeted with some TSA agents asking me to come with them. A confused "Huh" was all I could mutter, and I am sure I gave them my best "deer caught in the headlights" look.

Apparently, there was a new law recently passed that women in long, loose fitting garments have to be searched. Although I was in shock, I calmly asked the agent if I could wait until my husband was through so he could stay with the boys.

The agent then thought that I was questioning his request and replied with, "Ma'am, you are only making this harder on yourself. Come with me now."

My boys had silently taken all of this in and, apparently, could take no more. Austin spoke up with, "Just what is going on here? Do you realize that is my mother, and you don't talk to her that way."

My gangly 13-year-old came to my rescue. Jamison stared at them so intently I was afraid his glasses were going to fog up and said, "You just wait for my Dad."

By this time, we seemed to have garnered attention from our fellow travelers, and I felt all eyes on us. Apparently, our fellow travelers fully expected me to pull a diabolical weapon out from under my dress or something.

By the time John reached us, the TSA agents were escorting me to a room to do a thorough check to confirm that I wasn't a terrorists with a vendetta against the U.S.

The last check the TSA agent did was to check the bottom of my feet. It was then confirmed that I was simply a misguided ranch girl who was trying to look hip and cool in my maxi dress and wasn't taking into consideration the angst that it would cause the United Stated government or a certain amply endowed TSA agent named Angie.

As I walked back to my waiting family. Austin called over his shoulder, "Why, this was just ridiculous. Who could look more American than her? Really, people?"

Then, an impish grin spread across his face, and he continued, "Eww, you have done it now. You are going to be written about in the Victoria Advocate - you have just given her a new column. I can see it now. Hate to be you."

I scolded him for being rude, but I must admit that inside I was beaming with pride. My boys were taking care of their mom. Although in this situation, their hands were tied, I still felt their concern and in a sense they "had my back."

Currently, I am busy packing our suitcases for another trip to the airport. I have learned my lesson, and I have toned down my traveling outfit. I no longer dress to impress - I dress to not annoy the TSA agents or draw any attention to myself.

From now on, I travel in jeans and T-shirts and let out a huge sigh of relief when the TSA agents wave us on.

Johanna is a proud seventh-generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom at smellysocks@vicad.com or visit her blog at morethansmellysocks.com.

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