I think some people take their freedom and liberties for granted in this beautiful country of ours. While some people are able to check in for their flights online and glide through security, I am the one being sniffed by a German Shepherd, laying on the ground with my hands above my head.
At first, I was blissfully unaware that I was a suspected threat. I would laugh it off as the security agents emptied out my bag and examined every tampon, should they actually be miniature plastic explosives. I would shake my head in disbelief, all the while secretly liking the attention while I was frisked.
As technology improved, my problems did not. The age of the online check-in had begun. I was excited to avoid the terrible lines and general aggravation caused waiting for a ticket agent. Deciding to give it a try, I was met with a page that said “Problem With Check In. See Ticket Agent”. The illustration accompanying this was that of an air controller, his red sticks in the shape of an X. Next to his mouth was a word bubble that said “Stay out of our country, terrorist!” “Well that’s odd,” I thought.
At the airport, I finally got to the front of the check in line. I threw my suitcase on the scale, and it immediately started beeping. I remembered that I had packed a game called Catch Phrase, which has an automatic timer that beeps slowly at first and then urgently before it buzzes loudly. The ticket agent immediately began sweating through her polo and called over her supervisor to handle the situation. Just then the beeping stopped, and I was on my merry way.
Arriving at my destination, I waited at the baggage claim to retrieve my suitcase. It was hard to recognize, as it was completely covered in duct tape. The TSA had not only foraged through my suitcase for weapons, but they had broken the zipper. I almost didn’t claim my bag. My eyes jealously darted to the passengers with their brand new luggage, and I made the executive decision to snatch my bag and run.
Technology continued to improve, making the skies safer for all. I was at the Indianapolis airport, when I noticed a new X-Ray machine being utilized. It was called the Rapiscan, and apparently was the most invasive form of monitoring individuals. I was immediately thrown into the large chamber, with my hands up, and my deadliest weapons exposed to all. Like most rapiscan victims, I did not report the incident. I guess I feel as though it was partially my fault.
After my third online check-in rejection, I decided to ask the ticket agent what the problem was. It turned out that my name was on the Do Not Fly List. Someone under the name Jean Garcia was using my name as an alias. I immediately felt for the masses of Elizabeth Garcia’s that were being pained by this injustice. I even thought about perhaps forming a support group.
In order to get my name taken off this massively racist list, I had to fax copies of my birth certificate and social security to the TSA. They responded that my pertinent information was far too blurry to actually read. I then cut off my right index finger and sent that along with nine vials of blood so that they could verify my identity. That seemed to do the trick. No longer would Jean Garcia piggyback on the solid name of Liz Garcia. I had won!
I thought this would free up a lot of time at the airports going forward. I found out how wrong I was when I came back from Mexico and was immediately diverted to a windowless room, the door locking heavily behind me. I tried thinking about what I did wrong. I didn’t have over $10,000 in currency. Maybe people get stopped if they come back with too little money? Then it dawned on me. I was eating almonds straight from the trees of Mexico. Bringing agriculture into the United States from another country was strictly forbidden. I exchanged a guilty glance with a turbaned, Middle Eastern man, a few seats over.
After twenty minutes of contemplating throwing my almonds and running, I was called to the bulletproof window. I was asked difficult questions, which I answered in a calm and professional manner:
Customs Agent: What was the purpose of your trip to Mexico, Miss Garcia?
Me: Business.NO! Pleasure. Definitely pleasure. My family was there too. I, uh, saw a sea turtle nest. BUT I DIDN’T TOUCH IT I SWEAR!!!!
Customs Agent: Okay Miss Garcia, and how long were you gone?
Me (sobbing): I have contraband almonds! Lo siento, I’m so sorry! Please don’t arrest me! I’m too pretty for prison!
After a few more minutes of questions, the agent disgustedly informed me that I was free to go. Free. And I will never take that freedom for granted again.