On March 1 I got up bright and early and headed to the Nashville International Airport with my best girl Rach. We were on our way to a long weekend on West Palm Beach with four other girls who make up our Book Club. Yeah – we’re crazy like that.
We arrive at the airport, and being the good citizen that I am, I had all my liquids and gels in their tiny little containers in their quart-sized Ziploc baggie. I took my shoes off, went through security and was standing shoeless waiting on my stuff to come out. Rach was behind me.
All of my stuff came out of the scanner, except for my purse. Then I saw my purse peek out and go back in the scanner. WTF. Then I saw the x-ray dude call over another TSA official who then removed the bin with my purse from the conveyer belt. WTF. He held it up and yelled “WHOSE BAG IS THIS?”
I shot my hand in the air proudly – “MINE!”
Then my thought process went like so:
“Man – what could I have possibly left in there? Every lip gloss I own is currently in that tiny Ziploc. Are there tweezers in there? Man they are strict…you can’t do anything these days without….OH MARY JESUS AND JOSEPH. My tazer.”
So let me just pause right here in the story and provide you with some history.
Several years ago, my ex-father in-law (if you just said “huh?” then just keep reading… I don’t have time to explain that story too) bought all of the women in his life (his wife, daughter, daughter-in-law) a tazer for protection. It was awesome. It was pink and had a deployable cartridge and could also immobilize a second victim via contact (like a stun gun). And IT WAS PINK! I had carried it for like 5 years and never used it. Well, full disclosure – I never HAD to use it. I may HAVE used it though after one particularly wild Steeplechase weekend when some very brave (read, drunk) young men wanted to see what it felt like. That’s neither here nor there. But I did carry it all the time. If I had to walk to my car late after work I would have it out at the ready. If I ran after dark by myself I would carry it with me. It also had a laser sight on it, which was enough to scare most people off – and I did shine that at a creeper once while running. He took off.
So that’s why I have had a tazer.
Back to the airport. “It’s my bag, sir.”
“I’m going to need you to step over to this metal table – real slow.”
OMG. My stomach just fell out of my butt.
I walked over to the table and he asked me to put my hands on it. He asked again if this was my bag. YES. Is there anything in here that might poke or stick me?
“No, but something might taze you. There’s a tazer in there. I’m sorry. I just forgot.”
He just glared at me and began sifting through my purse. When he spotted said tazer at the bottom of the bag he didn’t touch it. He apparently can’t as it’s not in his jurisdiction. He radioed to a Metro Nashville Police Officer who came over. At the same time, magically a couple of what I assume now were Air Marshalls appeared over my left shoulder. Then another metro cop appeared over my right, and the one who the TSA official called was there also, ready to look in the bag. He pulled out the tazer.
In the meantime, someone appeared with three copies of my drivers license. I don’t even remember giving it to them, let alone know how they made copies that quickly.
“Again – I’m sorry. I just totally forgot it was in there. What’s going to happen? Can I mail it to myself?”
“Ma’am – you can’t mail a tazer. Ever.”
“Oh. Can I check it in my bag?”
“You can NOT check this in a bag without it being secured like a firearm.”
“Hmm.” Now I’m starting to realize why they are annoyed. I clearly know nothing about weapons or traveling and here I am mixing the two.
They were all really nice, to be honest. But they couldn’t have cared less that I was some airhead on a trip to Florida with her book club friends. They took me every bit as serious as you might expect them to take someone carrying a weapon through security.
About that time Rachel asked what was going on and I said “TAZER.” And made a tazer noise at her. “BZZZZZ.”
This is when they separated us. They did not appreciate that one bit.
The cop next to me who was now holding my tazer said, “Well, one of two things are going to happen. We just changed our policies so I’m trying to get verification. Either you can surrender this, which I hate for you to have to do because I know these things are expensive. And then you can hopefully go on your way after some paperwork. OR, if our policy says so (again, trying to get verification), I’m going to have to take you downtown and book you on a criminal misdemeanor weapons charge.”
Oh, I just thought my stomach fell out of my butt earlier – now it really did.
“Are you kidding me?”
“Nope – I hope we can just fill out some paperwork, but up until a few weeks ago our policy was to book you. I think it’s changed.” Oh please have let it changed. Come on Obama!
About that time ANOTHER cop appears and escorts us to a small room where there were mug shots of potential terrorists hanging on the wall. Y’all.
The room was only big enough for about three of us, so the other 5 air marshalls and cops stood outside the door. In the meantime another one of my already boozed up girlfriends walks by and saw me sitting there. She is a lawyer, but since she may or may not have had mimosas on the way to the airport, she just kept walking. Thanks girl.
They took photos of me, took photos of my tazer and had me fill out a bunch of paperwork saying I was willfully surrendering my tazer.
The cop said, “well, that’s it. Do you want to speak with her?” And he waved one of the air marshall guys in.
He said, “why did you have a tazer, ma’am?” Just for protection, sir. I just totes forgot I had it on me. So sorry. He smirked.
He said “Have you ever been in the military?” No. “Have any other criminal charges pending?” No. “Do you go to shooting ranges often?” No. Just the one time. He smirked.
He said, “well, they will take all of this into consideration when giving you your fine.” WHAT. WHO? FINE? “Who is they and how much is the fine?”
“They are the TSA lawyers in Washington D.C. You’ll probably get a call or a letter and you can either get a lawyer or just work it out from there. I have no idea how much the fine might be.” Geeze Louise!
After some quick googling on the plane (yes, I made my flight and promptly ordered a bloody mary), I learned that the fine could be up to $10,000. I ordered another bloody mary.
So, I’ve been waiting on pins and needles to find out how much my fine would be. 45 or so days later, this week, I got a letter that said they were letting me off with a WARNING. A warning!! Praise baby Jesus! Thank you, TSA, for a.) doing your job and b.) realizing there are bigger fish to fry than the book club tazer bandit.
Quick side note, then I’ll end this long post.
On the way BACK to Nashville from West Palm Beach (great trip, by the way) – I was joking about how I’m probably on a watch list now and bet I get picked for an extra special search. Rachel told me no way, not to worry about it. Well, sure as the sun rises, they pulled my purse from the belt again and he said “who’s bag is this?” Are you kidding me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
“Ma’am – step over to that table.” I KNOW THE DRILL, sir. I’m a pro.
“Is this your bag?”
Yes – is this a bad dream?
He proceeded to pull a giant bottle of water from it. OMG. I SUCK AT FLYING. I said that out loud. He said, “nah, you aren’t that bad.” About that time Rachel appeared and said, “yeah – she’s pretty bad.”
I pulled her away toward the gate before she could blow my cover.
And that, my friends, is how I may or may not have gotten myself on the watch list. Who wants to go on a trip with me!?