So on my way back to Australia, I was wearing a new bra.
Riveting stuff, right?
The damn thing set off every metal detector I walked through. Suddenly I was a Slightly Interesting Person to the security people.
Only slightly interesting. Being a white, English-speaking female wearing a suburban-mum outfit travelling with an American (and male) spouse and carrying a sleepy three-year-old apparently puts you fairly low on the list of dangerous types. Nevertheless, I was removed from the line and patted down and such.
I’ve read accounts of this that made it seem very upsetting and scary. And I’m sure it was, for those people. Certainly I think that our pallid-middle-class appearance stood us in good stead. But seriously, the TSA people were just so nice! The first time I set the detector off, the guy gave me about five tries to get through without jostling it, then waited while I passed the sleeping ninja to the spouse and waved me through to speak to one of the female TSA people. (Officers? Peons? who knows?) She took one look at my not unimpressive bust and said it was probably my underwire, and did I buy my bra at Nordstroms by any chance?
She nodded wisely and said that yes, that usually happens. The lines carried at Nordstroms use a heavier gauge of underwire or something. She asked a couple of times if I knew what a patdown entailed and if I wanted to have it in private. (I said no, but it was nice to be asked). The pat-down itself was barely noticeable, and another TSA lady very kindly assisted my husband with our copious carry-ons, stroller, and dozy little ninja while I was otherwise engaged. They were all very friendly and nice about the whole thing, and I was warned that since I knew my underwire would set off the machine, I should just offer to go through the body-scan machine at LAX, when we switched to the international flight, so I wouldn’t have to get patted down again. The TSA lady giving me the patdown assured me that she worked around the machine all the time and had absolutely no worries about safety, radiation-wise, which was a nice effort to be reassuring.
Unfortunately, there was no scanner in the area I went through at LAX, so I had to be metal-detected again. And once again, the lady doing the pat-down was very nice about it, offering me privacy and apologizing a couple of times for having to feel around in the waistband of my jeans. Once again, someone else helped the spouse manage our bags, piling them up on a bench out of the way while he had to wait for me and helping him manage stroller and ninja. They even hurried my mobile phone through the scanner so it could be handed back to the ninja, who is besotted by a new nursery-rhyme program I downloaded for her.
So if you’re traveling to or from the USA, and have heard the scary stories about the TSA… well, sometimes they’re true. But sometimes they can be awfully nice and helpful, too!
And wear a bra with thin underwire.