As a member of the band Twisted Sister, I have traveled to over 30 countries in the last 15 years. I’m no stranger to rigorous post 9/11 airport security. Recently, however, I had one of the most absurd domestic travel experiences of my life.
I am a member of several programs designed to aid the frequent (and vetted) seasoned traveler both in the US and abroad: Global Entry, Registered Traveler (UK) and TSA PreCheck. All of these programs have enrollment fees and all have a vetting procedure which involves law enforcement reviews.
While these programs do make my life easier, they are by no means perfect or without their own bizarre issues, as a recent trip illustrated.
As a seasoned traveller, I’m used to packing and traveling with the fewest items that I think will ever be flagged. I always take off my belt, sweater, jacket, jewelry, credit cards and shoes when going through security.
Last week, I was flying out of Laguardia Airport to Boston. All that was in my small overnight carry on bag were a change of clothes, Bose headphones and the book The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the fall of New York, by Robert A. Caro.
I walk through the metal detector without a problem.
As I waited for my bag, I hear the “security check” alarm.
A TSA official walks over towards me.
“Is this your bag?” they ask.
“Yep, that’s mine” I say.
“I’m opening your bag, sir” they say.
“Go ahead,” I say, with no humor or consternation in my voice.
The woman TSA official opens my small bag and proceeds to rifle through all the pages of my book.
“You see this book?” she says.
“Yes,” I say.
“It’s too thick, too many pages, it set off the alarm.”
To be fair, Caro’s 1,300 page book is a hefty tome and weighs just under 4 pounds. But all I really wanted to say was, “Are you f***ing kidding me??”
Instead, I keep my cool, and say matter of factly, “I can keep it, can’t I?”
“Yes, just be careful next time. Have a good day.”
Be careful? As in “Too much information can be harmful!”
I just shook my head and realized that in the age of Trump and DeVos it just may be to dangerous to be reading anything that may be considered a learning tool.
Anything longer than a tweet may be considered a threat to our society.
Another travel lesson learned.
Next time, I’ll try to smuggle an issue of People magazine past the TSA!
I’m such a subversive…