|Airport in Mestia, Svaneti, Georgia. 2012.|
I was on the first leg of my flight journey to Guatemala. Columbia, Missouri.
"You are a random," he said.
On one level, I loved this. It was all science-fictiony, like I was an android. Immortally frozen at a good age, of course. Intelligent. Everything smooth and shiny.
I also got that it's a lazy term of art within a particular profession, in this case, the Transportation Security Administration. Like psych staff might call a patient with a certain affliction "the catatonic down the hall" or an automotive job "the oil change in bay 2." Humanity stripped off.
|Hologram at Istanbul, Turkey airport. 2011.|
There were no buzzers or bells or lights that I saw when I walked through the scanner portal. It was something whispered by the machine only to the TSA agent, I guess. "She is a random."
OK, no problem. I got the full-body pat down and then another TSA agent swiped the palms of my hands with a round wipe cloth. Fascinating.
Something on the palms of my hands set off an alarm.
It changed my status from a random to an alarm.
This meant a thorough-thorough search of all pieces of my luggage, including wiping down the insides of my carry-on bag with one of the round wipes. I felt some trepidation at this, trying to remember where I might have been and what I might have packed in the bag in prior trips, trying to imagine what could rattle the security sensors. Berbere from Ethiopia? That incredible fish seasoning I brought back from Caucasus Georgia, given to me by friend Sandy, who'd received some from a friend with family from west Africa, who had carried it to Georgia after a visit to her relatives there? Svaneti salt?
|Bole Airport, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 2011.|
Final outcome: My brand-new tube of toothpaste was confiscated for being too large.
|Airport cat at Baku Airport in Azerbaijan. 2012.|