This Awkward Moment Has Been Brought to You by The T.S.A.
The shiny black Lincoln MKX pulls up to the International Terminal of the Atlanta airport in an early morning rain. Two things I like to do when I have to fly. first I like to call an Uber Black car instead of an UberX. It’s a flat $50 from downtown where I live to the airport. The same as taking a shitty yellow cab. But the Uber Black cars are far nicer. Plus, this trip is expended on someone else’s dime so I’m taking the more expensive ride. The elderly black woman who was my driver this morning had the city wired. She has been a limo driver in Atlanta for over 10 years and knew all of the short cuts to get around the morning rush hour traffic. She took the HOV lane and skirted past the sea of red brake lights on I-20. She past the exit to merge on to south I-85 to the airport. “Now, what we’ll do is get off at the next exit that goes to the Falcon’s stadium and hit the on ramp back on to the free way.” Just as we passed I-85 the traffic was gone. She got off on the exit. Took a right at the bottom of the off ramp on to the empty street. It was 7:30am on a Tuesday morning and when no NFL games ever happen so there was no one on the feeder street to the Georgia Dome. She hung another left, went underneath the freeway and then turned on to the on-ramp to I-85 south. The whole thing took about 60 seconds and we were back to doing 65mph towards the airport. All of the congestion behind us.
“I’ll have to remember that next time I’m driving.” I said.
“Do you have a radio station you’d like to listen to?”
“No. I usually listen to NPR in the morning.”
“I like the jokes on the Tom Joyner Morning show. Do you mind?”
“Not at all.”
“I like to ask. I don’t want to bore my passengers with my Japanese language CDs.”
This woman was learning to speak Japanese while driving around all day. Why Japanese? Just because she wanted to learn it and she had the time.
Moments later we pulled up to the international terminal of the airport. This is my 2nd life hack for going to the airport for trips. The international terminal is the newest section of the Atlanta airport. It isn’t connected to the city’s MARTA train and most of the traffic usually goes to the Domestic side of the airport where it’s always crowded. Even if I’m flying domestic, I go through the international side. There’s way less people and I’m usually through security and into the airport in under 5 minutes. I’ve seen the security line snake through the domestic side with a wait of over an hour. That’s one less hour of sleep I could have gotten for my morning flights. I put my duffel bag through the x-ray machine, I take my laptop out of my backpack and place in a bin. Shoes off. Pockets empty. I’m a pro. I step into the screening machine and put my hands up. The large mechanical centrifuge arm does one revolution around my body and step out. The TSA screener stops me.
“Hold on a second sir, I need to check…Uhh…” There’s an awkward pause. I turn around to look at the screen that’s making him uncomfortable. On the screen is a silhouette and it lights up in bright yellow any anomalous areas that the machine detected on the body and where the TSA screener needs to pat the person down. I can never figure out what this expensive machine is detecting since it always lights up my calf or my arm and I never have anything on me. I think it’s a piece of shit that someone got rich selling to the government to be used at all of the airports. I look at the screen and the entire crotch of my silhouette is lit glowing yellow.
“Uhhh…” the TSA screener stammers. I burst out laughing.
“Ummm…sir, do you mind going through the machine again.”
For a moment I was tempted to say no just so this guy would have to uncomfortable pat down another man’s junk, who obviously doesn’t have a problem with it and kind of wants him to.
“Sure” I said and stepped back in the machine.
He scanned me again and, thankfully for him, this time nothing in my pubic area glowed yellow. We both laughed. His chuckle sounding more nervous than my gregarious bellow. I collected my things and put my shoes back on. A few moments later, I’m standing in front of a Starbucks counter. I look at the time. It’s been only twenty five minutes from my door, to the airport, through security to getting a hot cup of coffee. Still had an hour to kill before my flight.