The date was December 1, 2003, and part of the day was very ordinary and part of it was a rare event, an event I had actually been anticipating for fifteen years. See, fifteen years ago, I began body piercing. I had multiple ear piercings at the time, but body piercings were much more rare, and earrings tend to be made of sterling silver which does not set off metal detectors. And it was the rare rock concert where you were hand-wanded for metal, which I have learned is about the only time any body jewelry is registered by a metal detector.
Anyway, on this particular day, while on route from Seattle back to San Francisco, I was "privately screened." Sadly, no Academy members were involved. Going through security check, I was filtered into the extra special screening line at SeaTac. A sampling of passengers were pulled randomly as we passed and all our bags were gone through by hand and we were scanned by hand even though no one was triggering the doorway style detectors.
I had my bags gone through, and was directed to stand to be scanned all over. As the lady started to wand me, as I always do, I informed them I was pierced before they started. Ok... She really scanned my socks. They were day-glo green, but does that mean they are made of plastic explosives?
All she gets metal-wise are two very distinct beeps from my chest, right in front. Now, up until this point in the space-time continuum, all previous screeners would go "yeah, off you go..." This time I was informed that a "private screening" would be required. The guy going through my carryon bag asked if I had "anything else done?", so I said "yeah, all over" and gestured down my entire torso. He shook his head and politely apologized that he would not be able to continue. Too bad, he was kinda cute....
Two screening ladies pick up my two carryons (I was not allowed to touch anything at this point but I was allowed to put my shoes back on) and we walk over to this little curtained area off to the side. One was the wanding lady who seemed just a bit older than me, and one who was probably in her 50s. On the way, I asked the younger one if she has to do this a lot, and she says once or twice a week.
We go behind the curtain. There is the same old mat with footprints on it there so I go stand on it. I'm asked if I have a shirt on under my sweatshirt. I say yes, and take off the sweatshirt. The younger screener then asks me if I can pull my t-shirt tight across my chest. I do as requested. As I wear 10g rings and have A-cup breasts, I have no doubt the rings outline were clear through the black shirt. She looks at the left breast, then the right one, says "Yep... you're pierced. Thanks... have a good flight." I'm then allowed to touch my carryon bags again and can leave.
Weird... and sorta anticlimactic.... What if I'd been wearing a bra? What if I hadn't been wearing another shirt under my sweatshirt? Anyway, my father has asked me for fifteen years if I've ever gotten to "educate" an airport screener, so today, I guess I did dad proud!
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