Travel is something that I love to do and wish I could do more of. My problem is that I never have enough money to go to all the places I want to go, nor can I get all that time off from work. Other than travel throughout the USA, I have been to Canada, Mexico, Poland, Ukraine, England, Egypt and Zambia. My next scheduled trip is back to NY this October to see my family and friends, and for my sister’s wedding.
Because of my love for traveling, you can only imagine that I have lots of stories (tales) of various mishaps that occurred while traveling. The one I’m going to share with you today, related to today’s “T” theme is how I was mistaken for a terrorist, not once, by 4 times, for the same trip!
It was August of 2003. I was living in NY at the time, working at a brain injury rehabilitation facility and had sent one of my clients to an alcohol treatment facility in Florida. He was about to be discharged but could not be unsupervised for travel. I had asked my boss if I could be the one to go to Florida to pick him up and bring him back, so that I could also spend a couple days with my grandparents. I got approved to go. One of my coworkers picked me up at 4:00am to take me to the airport. I’m not a morning person and like to dress comfortably when traveling, so that morning I put on a t-shirt, gym shorts, flip flops and pulled my hair back in a pony tail and was on my way. As I was in line to check in for my flight, a security person comes over and tells me to follow him. I started getting questioned about my travel and after I answered their questions and was searched, I asked what the problem was. I was told I fit the profile of a terrorist/terrorist group and so they were checking me out. I understood the need for security and all, but I was still half asleep, was dressed in gym clothes essentially, with no where to hide anything since I had no pockets, no make up on, etc. but decided I’m glad they were being thorough and didn’t let it bother me.
There was a lay over in Atlanta so I spent some time walking around the airport and grabbing some food before going to my next gate. When I got to the next flight, again I was pulled aside and questioned, and they went through my carry on bag. Again I was told about the terrorist profile, but was cleared and got on my flight. When I arrived in Florida, my luggage did not. I waited for 45 minutes to find someone to check on it and then filled out the necessary paperwork for missing luggage. My grandpa was initially upset because I had made him wait and drive around forever, before he knew about my missing luggage and finding me. After I got to their house and told them all that had happened to me that day, I got to thinking that maybe they had taken my luggage from my originating airport just to go through it again, since I was a person of suspicion. My luggage arrived the next day, and when I opened it, there was indeed a piece of paper inside from TSA that they had searched my luggage.
I spent a few days with my grandparents and then was taken back to the airport so I could go meet up with client. This time I chose not to check my luggage, so that it could not be “lost” again. I got pulled out of line again and this time was asked to go through this full body x-ray machine and had to answer a bunch of questions….seriously??? I finally met up with my client at the connecting airport and was telling him about my ordeal while we were in line for our flight, when I was again asked to step aside to be searched. I explained that my client would also have to be detained if they needed to keep me, which they were not understand of at first. My luggage and carry on were again searched and I was again cleared to go. I’m more than fuming at this point and vowed I wasn’t going to travel again. I found my seat and put my headphones on and blasted some CD’s (there were not iPod’s at that time). By the time we landed, I just wanted my bed and not to see another plane or airport for a long time. I don’t know what terrorist they were looking for, but it was NOT me.
I have traveled several times since them, including internationally, and have never again been mistaken as a terrorist, thankfully. And just to clarify, I am NOT a terrorist, and wouldn’t even know the first thing about being one.
Do you have any crazy travel stories (tales) that you want to share?
This post is part of a month-long series, A-Z, that I am participating in for the month of April. You can learn more about it by clicking on the link over on the right sidebar.