Thursday, January 6, 2011

WARNING: Lotion May Contain C4

I’ve flown many times in my life, but since I moved to Mass, I’m flying more often to go home to see my family. Because of this, you’d think I have many horror stories about TSA and all that, I really don’t. I’m an experienced traveler so I usually don’t have any trouble. I know to have all my liquids in 3 oz. bottles in a quart size Ziploc bag. I know to take off my shoes and coat before going through security. I know not to wear bulky clothing, etc. etc.

I was not aware, however, that some lotions contain C4 or other kinds of explosives. That I learned on my way back to Boston after Christmas.

I had an unlucky morning on the 2nd, first of all, my flight was at 6am so I had to be up at 4am so I could get to the airport, then once I got there, I got pulled for the x-ray machine. All before I got some coffee. I usually don’t get pulled for extra security; I can think of one other time and I was 16 and they didn’t like my backpack at LaGuardia.

I’m not sure what they were looking for considering I was wearing skinny jeans and a form-fitting sweater, but through the x-ray machine I went like a good little drone…I mean citizen. After you finish looking ridiculous with your feet spread and your hands over your head, you step out and they swab your hands with a cotton-like disk and put it in a machine. When they did this to me, the machine turned red and started beeping and flashing: EXPLOSIVES DETECTED.

I’m not really the kind of girl who plays with explosives at 4 o’clock in the morning, so I was a little confused. My confusion was augmented when the TSA agent asked me if I had put lotion on my hands that morning. It is January, it is cold and dry, yeah I put lotion on so my hands don’t bleed. Well, she says, lotion returns a positive for explosives on the machine, we’ve been getting this a lot since it’s winter.

Really? A machine, that I assume is exceptionally expensive, meant to detect explosives, can’t differentiate between dynamite and moisturizer?

I feel so safe.

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