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August 18, 2013

KNISELY: Carrying on at the airport

There are few things scarier than approaching a TSA airport security checkpoint when you know you have something weird in your carry-on bag.

Will they be able to tell what it is with the fancy X-ray machine? Is it allowed? What if it’s not? What if they see it as some sort of a weird threat? What if I tell them why I have it and they don’t believe me? What will they do? Will I be detained? If I am, will I miss my flight? Can you get a refund if you’re detained by security?

These are just a few of the questions that raced through my mind as I headed into Chicago’s O’Hare Airport this week for a flight to see my friend in Oregon. It’s a fear that only grew as I progressed through the process of boarding a flight. Each step brought me closer to the security gates and one step closer to panic.

As I approached security, there were more TSA agents than I’d ever seen before. There were blue shirts everywhere. I scanned the crowds of them, wondering which would be the one to arrest me when the contents of my carry-on were revealed.

I had to look suspicious. If nothing else, I had to look insanely nervous. And since nervous is the first cousin of suspicious, I was in trouble.

I stood in line waiting for my turn. I didn’t think I would ever wish for a long line, but today I did. The longer I was in line, the more time I had before I was outed. I could have stood in line forever and been just fine with it. I would have been the picture of patience. But, of course, today the security lines were flying.

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