Lessons Learned From the TSA – Sequins on a Plane

Well today it finally happened. I’d been waiting for it, for years. I knew my number would come up eventually and today was the blessed day. Sometimes I wonder what took so long. I’ll keep you in suspense for a bit on what new exciting experience I had today. Now I am going to level set you by giving you the backstory that lead to this post. I am traveling to Chicago by plane from Bradley International Airport in Ct. for a writer’s conference. I am super psyched! Spreading my love, enthusiasm, and Marvelouses all around the airport to everyone I see and talk to.

I’m pretty hyped up today (more than usual if you can imagine that!) very excited about my future possibilities. When traveling by air, I really really try hard not to be ‘that person’, you know ‘that person’ that takes forever to get through the TSA line. I don’t wear anything with pockets, I always check my bags, I don’t wear any jewelry, I make sure I don’t have any liquids on me, I even wear a bra without an underwire. Ladies you know the one, that bra that was your favorite bra that you wore for years that always made your breasts look amazing, then one day, you feel a stabbing pain in your torso on the upper side under your arm and you come to the realization that it’s happened, the underwire is poking through the cloth of the bra and you are forced to take it off before it punctures a lung and pull the underwire out.

I am always amazed at how freakin big those underwires are. It is like those magician scarves that just keep coming and coming. Then you continue to wear the bra because one perfectly positioned breast is better than no good looking breasts at all. Eventually the time comes when you feel that stabbing pain on the other side, so you pull out the underwire on that side and now you have a wireless bra. OMG I crack myself up! Wireless bra. Anyway, after a sense of loss for your beautiful breasts and the disappointment of having your bra betray you, especially for the money we have to spend on these bras, you’d think they’d last forever but alas (yes I used the word alas) you realize bras are a consumable and has a shelf life.

Getting back to attempting to not be ‘that person’ in a TSA line. Finally I try not to have my footwear slow me down, if the weather permits even with my fuuugly feet, I’ll wear flip flops, otherwise I undo my laces ahead of time while I’m in the line. Try as I might to prevent it, I am often ‘that person’ that takes forever at the TSA line, I always have to use a gazillion bins because I have a jacket, a purse, shoes and multiple laptops to pull out of my laptop case and of course the laptop case itself. For folks that know me, I have 2 speeds, slow and slower. I’m pokey and have embraced my pokiness, but that does not mean that everyone else in line enjoys my pokey chill lifestyle. Today, on this flight, I take a whopping 5 bins and distribute my stuff according to TSA regulations. I’m wearing socks, yoga pants and a comfy shirt as my travel attire. (Along with my underwear and yes a wireless bra.) I walk up to the scanning booth, place my feet on the yellow painted feet on the ground, put my arms up as I’m directed and as the picture in front of you shows how you should look. I come out and the TSA lady is like ‘WOW look at that, you lit it up’.

She proceeds to show me the picture on the screen and my entire torso front and back is lit up like I’m on fire. All yellow and red about life. As it turns out the sequins on my shirt were the reason why I was lit up like a Christmas tree and here I thought it was my sparkling personality. The sequins are made of plastic so I did not think it would be an issue but they do reflect light so we speculated that was the reason for the reading by the scanner. So ladies and some of my gay friends, here is the PSA part, No sequins when going through an airport scanner. Well that scanner reading prompted a TSA agent to begin to tell me in a well prepared speech, where and how she will need to touch me to check me out to make sure I’m not a threat to national security. I kind of looked at her amused and looked around and said ‘Here in public you are going to do all that?’ She said ‘Would you like a private screening instead?’ Why yes I would thank you very much. I asked if I could grab my things, because now my 5 bins were holding up the conveyor belt on the back side of that scanner which was holding up the TSA line. They said ‘Do not touch anything we will grab everything for you, just point out which bins are yours’ As I do, the lady just looks at me like ‘Nice thanks a lot for speeding up my degenerative back disease’.

She consolidates the 5 bins to 3 bins and schleps my stuff over to the private screening room. As fate would have it, the room was locked. They had to go find the key. Once the key was found, the door opened, me and my stuff, that I can not touch, were all together in one place and 2 TSA employees were present. As it turns out, TSA requires multiple people are present at a pat down or screening which I think is a smart and appropriate safety measure. One of the women puts on rubber gloves and begins to tell where and how she is going to touch me again. Which is pretty much everywhere except for my head. Then she asks if there are any sensitive parts of my body. I could think of a few but not sure how to answer that I say ‘I guess we will find out!’ They laugh and so the probe begins. I tend to be a person that does not like to have strangers touching me. Hugs are good but this is something entirely different. So I’m cringing inside. She starts with my arms, not too bad. Then swipes down my back and sides, then down my butt and back side of my legs. They had a protocol that they would say ok I’m touching you with the back of my hand now on this part of your body.

Then comes the front. Well let’s just say it was the best action I’ve seen since my last mammogram about 2 years ago. She did not miss a spot. I was ever so thankful that I choose a private screening. Lesson learned, I now know where the sensitive parts of my body are if anyone ever asks again. Made me want to smoke a cigarette. The other lady says get yourself situated as my clothes were a bit disheveled now. They ushered me and my stuff, that I can touch now, out of the private screening area and we part as friends. I put on my shoes and when I stand I feel the need to do a funny little dance, shaking my leg in an attempt to pull my underwear out of my lady bits which then kind of had me feeling a bit violated. Eventually I just picked it out of my butt and lady bits in public and was on my way. I mean this with all sincerity, thank you TSA people for attempting to keep us safe and for this new experience which was the inspiration for this blog and I hope a few laugh out loud moments for my readers. You rock! Yea Chicago!! Super excited in more ways than one now. If you know what I mean. 😉


Lessons from the Road USA

Lessons from the Road, USA shares the travel adventures of a funny, single, 50-something year-old woman, traveling across the U.S. in a pickup truck. Webster is navigationally challenged and yet strangely addicted to camping sites and critters. She visits monuments of historical or personal significance and meets some fascinating people along the way!

Coming Soon!

Lessons from the Road RV

Join Margaret as she shifts from her tent to a new RV. This book is a must-read for anyone who owns, or is thinking of owning an RV to travel full-time.

Podcasts Featuring Margaret

Get Focused Episode 80

Episode 80: Meet Margaret Webster, author of “Lessons from the Road: USA”

8 Responses

  1. So I tried to comment or see all comments but it won’t let me.

    I was going to ask “are you going to wear the same top for the return trip home (for a repeat experience) or will you wear something else [😊] [😎]

    Namaste’ (the light in me sees and honors the light in you)

    <3 <3



  2. Another warning, do not wear any top with zippers. No embellishments of any kind! What I find lacking is that it was obvious your sequins set off the machine. We all have eyes, so why is a visual inspection of your garment not sufficient & not part of their protocol? Touching you only wastes everyone’s time & does not make us safer. This kind of treatment only seems warranted if you had been wearing a plain top & the machine detected something that wasn’t obvious to the eye & needed further inspection. This practice seems to discriminate against women, especially when it comes to bra straps or wires. The majority of women wear bras…it’s a fact. Why aren’t the machines programmed to recognize a bra strap? The technology for this can’t be difficult! Please think about this the next time you travel!

    1. Thank you for your response. I will definitely remember not to do zippers either. I suspect that the TSA was thinking that the sequin top was a deception for other stuff I could have been hiding elsewhere on my body. They have a job to do, just like everyone else. I agree though it would be nice if the technology exists to make under wire bras exempt from the searches.

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