My bro Maya and I were going through security, leaving Cleveland after surgery. All our carry-on baggage, laptops, shoes, jackets, scarves, little nerdy pins, small change, etc. were separated out, placed in tubs and sent through the scanner. The sleeves of my shirt are rolled to the elbow, and I am still wearing my hospital bracelet.
We were sent to a separate scanner - not a metal detector or an X-ray scanner, but a millimetre wave scanner. I don’t really mind - this happened on the way here, and electromagnets are cool.
I told them I couldn’t put my hands up all the way because had I just had surgery; they said that was okay, to just put them up as best I could. Maya later told me that they had a second agent come up to the machine as soon as I said I couldn’t raise my arms.
The scan came back suspicious. Sigh. Highlighted areas on my right hip and centre of my chest. They pulled me off to the side, away from the queue - by about two or three feet, so we were still in the open.
Right hip was a metal grommet on my pocket - Maya has similar detailing on her jeans which is apparently not suspicious (the steel wires and hooks on her bra didn’t set off the scanner, either). Besides that, I’d worn these same jeans on the plane coming to Cleveland, been through the same scanner, and they hadn’t been flagged. Colour me confused.
Centre of my chest was of course the surgical binder. Sigh a little, because the nurse had told us their out-of-town patients haven’t had any trouble getting through security. At this point I expected they’d take a glance and send me on my way. Nope.
I opened the top two buttons of my shirt and show her the zipper. She looked perplexed. Asked how far down it went. I poked the bottom edge of it, though my shirt, and told her it came down to my waist.
She looked at it concernedly. Asked where I was sore. I told her at the sides of my chest, not wanting to go into the details of periareolar surgeries right that second - I was under the assumption that stating I’d had surgery on my chest - and my flat chest - would explain what was going on without me me having to sit down and have a chat about the state of my nipples.
I unbuttoned my shirt to the bottom of it; she ran the back of her hand along the zipper. Said she found nothing concerning. Told me to hold on for a bit.
Pulled me over to the scanner for explosive materials - still out in the open. Told me me to press the zipper against my chest (mercifully not bruised…?) and run my fingers down it. Swabed the zipper, then swabed my hands. Didn’t swab the hospital bracelet, though.
The scan found nothing suspicious.
She looked at me concernedly.
Asked me ‘…Do you /need/ to keep it on…?’ I told her yes, it’s holding on dressings and pressing down swelling, and I need to keep it on for two more weeks, doctor’s orders. Definitely did not mention that I could technically take it off for short periods because there is no way I could have managed to take it off or put it back on without some assistance, at least, and we were, of course, still in security trying to get on our flight.
She told me to stay there. Went and got a colleague.
Colleague repeated the stare-at-the-binder-concernedly routine. I unbuttoned my shirt again to show them the bottom of the zipper. Colleauge put on gloves. Ran her hand down the zipper. Found nothing suspicious. Asked me where the incisions are. I repeated that to her. She looked at my chest, probably trying to use her X-ray vision to get at my nipples. Seemed perturbed by not actually having X-ray vision to look at my nipples.
Maya, who had been hovering nearby, detailed the arrangement of gauze padding under the binder. Mentioned there are hooks beneath the zipper. Second agent looked alarmed, asked ‘…hooks?!’
I heard Maya sigh. ‘Hook-and-eye closures. Fasteners. Little clips.’ Second agent looked at Maya suspiciously. Looked at my chest and the hand that touched it nervously.
She pulled the first agent aside, still nearby, exchanging glances for a minute or two. The first told the second she didn’t find anything, hesitantly. The second looked from the first to the binder to my face to the binder and back to the first. I stood wonderin if they were just disappointed that the only interesting thing they’ve seen all day is completely innocuous. They looked at me suspiciously, and the second said to the first ‘I guess we can let [pronoun redacted] go…?’ The first looked at her colleague and then back to me, and said slowly ‘You’re… good… to go?’ Finally. I buttoned my shirt and Maya and I discussed how glad we were we came early.
Public enemy number one, right here.