Over the 101 and through the hoods my son and I joined the tentative, if not battle-weary travelers this holiday at LAX, for a trip to grandma’s house. Prior to hopping on that nonstop flight to Columbus, Ohio, we did get to experience the new holiday tradition. Everyone is a suspect.
Ever since my five-year-old son was pulled out of line and asked to remove his shoes, I have been keeping an especially close eye on him. I could tell they were on to something by the way he sat there smugly as if to say, “I’m way ahead of you.” Even running the wand over him and putting his jacket through the X-ray did not unsettle his cool exterior.
This potential for “family members of interest” spans generations. For instance, my grandmother packed an alleged George Foreman grill in my luggage. Interesting. When my luggage was put through the scanning device it set off a red flag. All of a sudden I was called over, my luggage pulled out of the machine. I told the man, “It’s a George Foreman grill, my grandmother gave it to me for Christmas” and immediately I thought, Damn, does that sound suspicious? They might think I’m her co-conspirator and I don’t even know where she bought the grill.
“Yeah that’s what we saw,” he said as he proceeded to open the suitcase and remove the kitchen appliance. My grandmother rushed to my side; I was glad. At least if she was up to something she wasn’t going to let me take the rap alone.
The airport man then took a salad tong type of apparatus, put some tissue on it and swabbed my new George Foreman grill. He put it in a machine. I asked, “What are you testing for?”
“The presence of materials used in explosives,” He replied.
Oh my goodness, I thought. I wondered if my son was in on it. Had they planned for me to take the fall all along?
Whatever the case, the tests for untoward residue came back negative. Which allayed my suspicions for the time being.
I think that the flight attendant had suspicions of her own regarding my precocious kindergartner who, interestingly enough, considers himself a scientist. She said that she would have to move his new Rocket Power skateboard from the overhead storage and put it under the seat of someone in first class. We were sitting in the first row behind the wall dividing first class from second class.
“That’s not fair,” my son exclaimed.
The flight attendant turned to my son, bent down and looked him directly in the face. “It is fair!” she said. “You get more leg room, but you don’t get under-seat storage.”
She’d probably seen his type before. She no doubt recognized his snow boots and Happy Meal toy as tools of the trade.
He looked at her without a word, as if to say, “We’ll see about that…”
After a two-hour delay in boarding the flight and a considerable time spent in the immobile plane, I started to think that the authorities must be on to whatever my son and grandma had up their sleeves. It would probably only be a matter of time until airport security was escorting my son off the plane. They’d probably even detain me as a material witness.
Finally the captain came over the speaker and announced that the flight was being delayed due to new security procedures. Apparently someone had checked their baggage and neglected to board the plane. About an additional hour’s worth of luggage was removed and searched and reloaded into the cargo hold, in order to locate the problematic pieces of luggage.
I was able to breathe a sigh of relief when we arrived back at LAX. For a moment I started to think of how glad I was to be done with the ordeal of air travel. Then I realized, I had to take the Santa Barbara Airbus home… and I had to do so with a 5-year-old, potential airport rules violator. I might very well be traveling with the enemy.
Tiye Baldwin is a Daily Nexus staff writer. Her son has been detained for further questioning.