For the past eleven years, anyone who has flown anywhere knows the standard airport procedure.
Take off your shoes.
Take off your coat.
Take out your laptops.
Walk through the metal detector.
Scramble to get your stuff back together.
Catch your flight.
Because my life sometimes resembles a divine practical joke, I, of course, had a pair of two-foot titanium rods fused to my spine just 83 days before the September 11 attacks that caused the heightened security. No longer could you judge the length of someone’s relationship based on whether or not their significant other escorted them to their gate, (name that movie!) and no longer could I pass through airport security without some sort of scuffle.
While I am grateful for the security, each and every time I fly, the familiar ring of a TSA officer saying, “Ma’am. We need you to step over here,” is heard. I get pulled out of line, put into the body scanner and then surrounded by two or three officers while they tell me that a ‘foreign object’ was spotted on my person.
I explain the rods, have a handheld metal detector wand over me and occasionally show off Dr. Betz’s neat scar before I’m allowed on my way. It’s something I’ve gotten used to, and in fact, something that I take comfort in, knowing that they’re covering all their security bases.
I flew down to Florida for a quick visit to meet my best friend’s brand new baby boy this past weekend, and security on the way there went just as planned.
(Quick aside: Like, four of my friends are having/had babies this year. After I write my memoir on being a bridesmaid, I’m totally writing one about all of these babies. It will probably be titled, My Friends Keep Multiplying in Babies; I Keep Multiplying in Awesome. But that’s just a working title.)
On the way home, however, things got a little dicey.
One of my other friends is also the proud new parent of an adorable baby boy. Florida Baby Boy (FBB from here) and Pittsburgh Baby Boy (PBB) are destined to be friends because their parents have already decided it and they’re just going to have to deal with it whether they like it or not. Another thing they’re going to have to deal with? The guilt trip I’m going to lay on them about their first present exchange.
FBB is being nursed, while PBB is bottle fed. Both are also handsome as all get out. That has nothing to do with the story, but it is a fact and one that you should know.
Anyway, while FBB has no need for formula, the formula manufacturers keep sending his parents samples of baby formula. These samples are serious, with TONS of the powdered goodness getting sent to newborns across the country.
Being the share do-be that he is, FBB sent the containers upon containers of baby formula back up north with me to give to PBB. I hadn’t over packed like I normally do, so there was plenty of room in my suitcase for the formula, I just had to get a little creative.
Single servings of powder in tubes fit perfectly in socks. The round containers fit great in the pockets next to my shampoo. Perfect!
As I went through airport security, though, I realized that perfection wasn’t exactly what I was working with.
“Ma’am. There’s a foreign object on your body.”
“Yes, I know. I have rods in my back.”
“Ma’am, there’s also a suspicious amount of powder in your bag.”
The TSA officer whipped my bag off of the conveyor belt and directed me over to where she would open my bag with me present.
“Is anything in here going to harm me?”
As I reached over to help her find the zipper to my bag I said, “No, it’s just—“
“Ma’am, do NOT touch the bag!”
Other officers began to take notice and I was so, so glad that I wasn’t in another country.
“Sorry! I was just going to say that it’s baby formula.”
As the officer took out each container to examine them, she looked at me suspiciously and said, “Well then, where’s the baby, ma’am?”
“The baby for the formula. It doesn’t appear that you have a baby.”
“Oooooo, no. No, no, no. No baby for me. Ha, no. Absolutely not. No.”
“Then why all the formula?”
“Oh! Well, I was visiting one of my best friend’s new babies and she’s nursing and asked me to bring up the formula to one of my other best friend’s babies since he is using formula. It’s like a gift!”
“…wanna see pictures of the babies?”
“Why did she have formula if she’s nursing?”
“They’re free samples.”
“Wow. Those are big free samples.”
“I know! It’s no wonder formula’s so expensive if they’re giving it away to every new baby around, right?”
We hemmed and hawed a bit longer, with me trying my best not to look like a drug mule. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the TSA officer was satisfied with my answers and let me go on my merry way.
So, FBB and PBB, don’t say your pal Laura never did anything for you.
And parents of FBB and PBB, thanks for not turning me into a drug mule.