The Snow Globe: The Tyranny of Security

“A snug-ghoh!” I said still more loudly, whispering as if I had an aside to the audience in a Broadway play.

“I still can’t understand you, why are you talking like that?”, my husband asked me with an amused, confused look on his face.

“Cht chhhttt shhht shhhh sh”, I give him the calm down signal and take a glance around. I face forward and take a sip from my drink. My husband stares at me in disbelief.

“So did you find a snow globe or not?”, he says. Out loud. This was getting out of control. I jerk his arm to me and stick my face in his hair. I whisper a whisper so quiet, he could barely hear me.

“It’s about the snow globe. I’ll tell you later. I have it. I can’t talk about it now. Security‘s watching me.”, I release my claw and faced forward again, taking another sip of my drink, taking a sidelong quick glance at the bartender.

This is America.

Fortunately, some of our stories from the TSA are amusing in their recall. Some not so much. Some memories of passing through security must be downright scary.

I’ve often wondered how I would respond in a situation where the TSA wanted to violate my body or the bodies of my young children. Where is that line? I would never let an adult pat down my child in any other situation. I certainly would not require my kids to remove their clothes and make themselves subject to leering, poking and prodding. If put in this situation by the TSA, where would I start to become a “security risk” due to my insistence of their bodily privacy, where would I start to lose control of what happens to my kids?

Here is excerpts from a recent episode at the TSA as described by this first hand account:

..He was not given the choice as to whether or not he wanted a private or public screening for the second, more invasive pat-down.

…The TSA agent informed us, as he snapped on his blue latex gloves, that he would be performing another pat-down, this time using the front of his hands, and he would be touching Chris’s “groin.” It was at this point I began asking questions. He became aggravated and asked for me to turn off my camera. I asked once more about photos and video for clarification, and he stated that the reason I could not film them touching my husband’s genitals through his shorts was due to “security reasons.” The other agent in the room spoke into his shoulder walkie about security. I complied and turned off my phone. When I asked for the agent’s name a second time, he informed me that if I would like, he would call security. The agent demanded that I put my phone away entirely and get it out of my hands and would not start the intrusive screening procedure until I had done so.

He performed the pat-down which began as routine, except that he used the front of his hands. He then bent down and specifically targeted Chris’s crotch. Using the front of his hands, he pressed against his genitals and swept his hands across the crotch three times across, and then pressed at the top of his genitals and wiped his hands down three times.

Make no mistake: outside of the airport this would be considered molestation.

They claimed that the alarm went off again after this second intrusive pat-down and that it was, again, due to “nitrates.” They were going to have to hold us further and were not sure whether we would make our flight…

Who has the data, that shows this sort of treatment is actually preventing terrorism? Are we willing to let random security look in every nook and cranny that a deranged psychopath is willing to shove a bomb? I certainly am not. If “freedom and liberty” mean getting felt up and checked out against my will, then fear and terrorism has won the day.

It’s disturbing how often “security” is invoked in the experience described above and in our government. Instead of believing it as a protection, we grow skeptical of what the guise of “security” is covering up.

There could be a snow globe revolt.

Returning from a trip to NYC, I remember that I had promised souveniers to my kids, and remembered a special request of a snow globe. I had kept it in the back of my mind, but seeing none, I resigned myself to foam Statue of Liberty crowns. While killing time in an airport bar, I realized that there was a wing with giftshops unchecked. I couldn’t think of anything better to do with my time so I stroll over to the wing and …’lo and behold, there was a gorgeous snow globe of the city, made of glass, on a high quality resin pedestal. No funk floated in the globe, no green bits or red algae, just crystal clear water and sparkling snow. I had it wrapped and practically skipped back to security I was so pleased with myself.

The line was longer this time through and the shift had changed. A woman was barking at the rest of us about shoes, jackets, parcels, loose change. We all assumed the position of joyless grains of sand dripping through the hourglass of security. I was waiting on the other side, for my shoes to come on down the slide when I realized there was a hold up. And because I was the one standing in my stockings, it slowly dawned on me that I was the hold up. I already had my purse, the only things in the tray were my shoes and shopping purchase.

It took a while for them to come over to me, bringing the tray. They asked me what was in the bag. I said, “a snow globe”, to which they immediately shushed me and asked me to keep my voice down. It hadn’t been raised.

They then proceeded to ask me a multitude of questions about the snow globe, knowing little because I had only met it ten minutes earlier, I explained that any details could be better answered by the gift shop I bought it from. I showed the receipt that confirmed I had purchased the gift only minutes earlier. They flatly refused to let the snow globe go any further on its journey. I was indignant, what did they have some kind of snow globe racket set up here in the airport? I was flabbergasted that the gift shop sold an item – obviously a souveneir item in a gift shop – that would only be confiscated by security. They agreed that it was a bit messed up, I said I wanted my money back, they got tough again and said that the snow globe wasn’t going anywhere. At this point it was understood that while we could have a normal discussion at an audible conversation level, every time anyone said the words “snow globe” their voice would drop to a low whisper. I wasn’t sure why I was doing this other than the fact that when I didn’t, I got shushed and everyone started looking around.

The part that was really screwed up is that I was in the terrorist suspect club. All of the security and passengers (who were quite irritated with me for holding up the line), looked at me a new – I was not just some shlub in comfortable pants, I was a potential terrorist and proven troublemaker. The thing is I am too much of a penny pincher and liberty lover to let it drop. Plus they wouldn’t let it drop. Maybe they wanted to send it to the lab.

The whole situation annoyed everyone in the room. I began negotiating. I swore that they could watch me wrap it up and tape it and I wouldn’t talk about it, tell anyone I had it, or take it out of the package until I left the airport in Denver. I swore, walked the line and caught my husband in the same bar – about to leave it to come looking for me. I gave him a strange smile as he asked if I had success and what was in the bag.

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One thought on “The Snow Globe: The Tyranny of Security

  1. Willa Addison says:

    I think you got the SNOW GLOBE.

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