"Open your bag please, ma'am."
We've all heard it or some variation thereof. Perhaps we were going through the security check at the airport, perhaps we were entering a museum, perhaps we may have even been going to a concert.
As I may have mentioned, my family attended a couple concerts last week. My husband carries a messenger bag with numerous pockets and zippers. Upon entering one of the concerts he held his bag open and a guard glanced inside it then waved him through. My youngest daughter was right behind him. She did not have a bag, but she did have on a pair of baggy pants with numerous pockets and zippers. She was waved on through. My eldest was wearing jeans so tight there was no WAY she was carrying contraband. She was waved on through. My niece is small and cute and I'm not even sure they noticed her. She walked right through.
I approached the security table with my tote bag opened wide. No pockets. No zippers. I expected to keep walking. The guard held up his hand. "Please start removing items one at a time, ma'am."
I removed my journal. He made me open it.
I removed my reusable shopping bag. He made me open it, as well.
He spotted two cases for eyeglasses. He made me open both of those.
The line behind me was growing longer.
I removed my wallet.
"Is that your wallet, ma'am?"
"Yes." I avoided the temptation to say, "No, it's my diaphragm" because he didn't seem to have much of a sense of humor. And also because it's really big. And also because it was clearly a wallet. And also because I didn't think of it till much later.
"I'll need you to open it for me, please."
Oh, for reals? I opened my wallet. Each compartment.
He spotted my camera. "No flash photography, or you WILL be ejected."
On that friendly note he waved me on through to join my family. He seemed a little disappointed at not having been able to make a bust.
"Move along please, ma'am." he chided as I tried to fold everything back up so that it would fit in my bag.
Now let me be clear: I understand and respect the necessity of security checkpoints. If everyone had been receiving the same degree of scrutiny I would not have been offended at all. But I really seemed to have been singled out.
"Profiling!" I screamed (you know, in my head), but I couldn't decide what profile I fit. Do they have a big problem in this town with rogue middle-aged fat chick hoodlum gangs? Is there now a known correlation between frumpiness and danger of which I am not aware? Are all the nogoodniks smuggling illegal substances into concerts in their bifocal cases these days?
Maybe I need to watch the news more.