Good Saturday morning to you again as I am now in Los Angeles after flying 13.5 hours and then landing four hours before I took off. The whole time zone thing is always a mind fuck to me in general, but when you go across the international dateline, it’s just so bizarre.
So, as I was leaving Australia, I had to go through immigration, customs and then their version of the TSA which, if you fly domestic is like the US in 1975, but international they put you through a pretty good screening. Because of this and just the general lack of real comfort in a premium economy seat for that long, I left the Axel in it’s little kit inside my carryon and thought nothing about it as it’s passed through the TSA many times. However, this time, I was not so lucky as my bag was pulled to the side to be searched. This happens occasionally because I carry a great deal of electronics and cables, so I was not worried and, in this case, my portable NEAT scanner was the thing they actually were looking at. However, as has happened to me once before there when I left a pair of tweezers in my bag, the Aussie gentleman who was charged with going through my bag literally unzipped it and dumped the entire contents into one of those plastic trays. As my type A organized self screamed in my head, I watched him go item by item looking in my little zipped cases for cords, pens, etc. I soon realized what was next and he picked up the little blue bag with the Axel in it, unzipped it and started just staring. He did not say anything to me, but took the bag as is, put it in another tray and then ran it back through the scanner. As he was doing this he was chatting with another bloke who brought it back to me, zipped up the bag, and then looked at me with a look that I could not tell if it was judgment, curiosity, or “hello fellow pervert”. At that point they released me to begin repacking my bag and he then asked me, for his form, what I called that “contraption”. I told him I call it Axel and that it’s technically body jewelry that works with a piercing. He smiled and I went on my way through the giant duty free mall they have before the gates. There was no drama, but I do have to wonder what his conversation was later at home.
So, the point of this is not to say they were wrong, or to say that the Axel is what set it off, because it really was the way my scanner was positioned in the bag. However any of us who carry anything unusual in our carry ons are subject to search and I had always wondered how my actual reaction would be, assuming that I would have melted into a big goo of embarrassment or shame. But, I didn’t. In fact, perhaps it was that I was too pissed about having my whole bag dumped and dissected, but I just simply didn’t care and wasn’t ashamed and truly only worried that he might drop the key out of the bag.
About two hours later when I got on the plane I started laughing about this because I reckon it is simply one more stage of self acceptance and, well, yay me.