We’re pleased to introduce a new columnist today, Carol Bradfield. Raised on Lake Norman and a North Mecklenburg High School grad, she jokes that she has been allowed to live in Davidson since 1986, even though she has absolutely nothing to do with the college. She studied Journalism, Advertising and Marketing at the University of South Carolina, and has spent years on the advertising side of the news business – until now.
Chris and Jesse were home from college for winter break. Instead of spending the week after Christmas wandering around Kohl’s and Target, I wanted to make the time special. A trip to San Francisco seemed perfect.
Being obedient citizens, we arrived at Charlotte Douglas with time to spare. We quickly joined the line at security, showed our IDs and then proceeded to do the sort-and-strip. Shoes, laptops, bags of tiny shampoos and luggage were placed on the conveyor belt.
Chris and Jesse went through the body scanner with no problem. Then it was my turn to take the Jumping-Jack stance. Bzzz. The buttons on my jacket set off an alarm. No problem. A free massage later and I was ready to go. Unfortunately my luggage was not.
I looked back and saw my suitcase on the stopped conveyor belt back at the monitor by the X-ray machine. The nice TSA agent waved me over.
She kindly asked if I had just returned from a beach trip. “No.” Did I have a bag of sand in my suitcase? “No.” Foot powder? “No.” Baking soda? “No.” I was trying not to panic as my mind tried to figure out what in the world she was talking about. As a last effort she asked, Perhaps you have one of those stress balls.” Again, “No.”
With sincerity, she announced, “I’m sorry, we have to send it back.” I stood and watched as another TSA agent lifted my suitcase and hauled it the wrong direction. He carried it past the growing group of travelers who were backed up because of this mysterious object in my suitcase.
My luggage was disappearing from view when it hit me. “It’s my fake boob!!” I yelled excitedly over the crowd.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but I would swear the entire airport went silent. I was so excited to solve the mystery, I forgot all eyes were on me as I flung open my jacket to reveal my lopsided shirt as proof.
The agent at the monitor simply fell forward, shoulders shaking, trying not to laugh out loud. She failed. She couldn’t talk from laughing so hard.
I went on to explain that I had had a mastectomy years ago and the prosthetic was uncomfortable and I didn’t want to wear it on such a long flight, so I had just put it in my suitcase.
Trying to hide her laughter, she had her face buried in one hand. She held up the other hand for me to stop talking.
I really don’t remember the details of the crowd. I just know they were enjoying the show.
Then … I looked at my kids. They were doubled over, red faced, gasping.
Regaining her composure, the TSA agent told me they still had to search my bag. She called for someone to come collect my luggage. “I need security, I promise you’ll like this one!”
A plump friendly middle-aged man came over to my bag and unzipped it. He wiped some sort of test strip around the inside seams of my bag. Then he ran the strip through a machine that detected any explosive residue. That strip passed.
Then he asked me where to look for the suspicious item. I told him, “It’s in my new bra, right in the middle of my clothes.” Explaining that I am not allowed to touch the case, he started removing shirts and jeans. I pointed. “It should be right there.”
With the crowd still looking on, the TSA agent found a bra strap, pulled out the threatening undergarment and held it high out at arms’ length. My new beige bra with the pretty ribbon on the front was dangling in the air like road kill. Wearing a serious expression, he wiped a test strip over the bra and around the cup weighed down by silicon. The strip was run through the machine. Whew! The bra and boob were declared clean. I could go.
The TSA agent at the monitor was still grinning. She thanked me for making her day and told us to enjoy the rest of our trip. Chris and Jesse were waiting for me, still chuckling and shaking their heads.
I hope the boys never forget our trip to San Francisco, the fireworks over the bay bridge at New Year’s, the sea lions at the wharf and our cruise down the coast. But I have a feeling the fake boob threat to security is what will be mentioned most. Oh well, as long as they remember.
Email Carol Bradfield at email@example.com