“We need to check your hair.”
Before I knew what was happening, gloved hands were on my head.
10 minutes earlier, Tom and I had arrived to the airport for a whirlwind weekend in Vegas. It was 6 in the morning. I staggered through the airport line after 4 hours of sleep and grudgingly took off my (barely-baggy) zip-up sweater, slipped off my shoes, and waited in an annoying line for my turn to go through the controversial x-ray machine, which may or may not be giving me cancer each time I fly. Usually, I try to be patient with the TSA regulations and workers. The whole process might seem pointless, but it’s not going away anytime soon so there’s not point getting upset or annoyed by it.
This particular morning, though, I was crabby. The week had been crazy busy and I was tired and didn’t feel like having anyone else control my time. I needed coffee and I needed to sit down and I needed to board the plane ASAP so I could get another hour of sleep.
Of course, this was the morning the machine decided I was a threat.
I went through the machine, held my hands up in a V above my head, closed my eyes (I don’t know why, but I always feel the need to close my eyes when I’m in there as if the X-ray is going to blind me…despite knowing x-rays can see through eyelids), and wandered sleepily out of the circular device to wait my turn on the footprints until I was excused. This usually takes 5 seconds. Today, however, I was not getting a signal to mosey on over to collect my bags.
“Please wait,” a gray-haired, skinny TSA man instructed me, and then he muttered something into his headphone and darted forward.
Oh, great. What had they seen? I patted my jeans pockets. Empty.
And that’s when a stocky, young woman appeared before me uttering “We need to check your hair.”
And a nanosecond later, before I’d even had time to react she’d scooted behind me, reached up her hands (she was quite a bit shorter than me) and began patting my head.
I’d never seen someone getting a pat-down on their hair before. My hair was hanging straight down to my shoulders, wasn’t in a ponytail, didn’t have any bobby-pins or anything in it, and I couldn’t be bothered to blow-dry it that morning so it didn’t even have a hint of volume. What on earth could they think is in my hair hiding? I get that hair could possibly be a weapon hider – but my hair? Particularly today? I could not figure out what about it could have set off the alarm on the x-ray contraption thingy the TSA seems to think so highly of.
I’m really not a fan of people touching my hair either. As a child I hated having my hair brushed by my mom, bemoaning that it hurt. I still have a sensitive scalp and the only person who gets to brush my hair besides me is my hairdresser. Besides, as an adult, when do you ever have your head touched except by a hair dresser? So, since I’m already not a fan of anyone besides my hairdresser playing with my hair, this TSA lady’s hands on my head made me immediately cringe.
Tom was already collecting his bag and looked over at me with the lady caressing my hair with a “what the hell is going on” expression and I wrinkled up my nose and stood still as a statue, tensed, waiting for it to be over. She patted down each section of my head and hair and then picked up the ends of my hair and felt them for…I don’t know what.
And then, after a final fluff of my hair, the inspection was over.
I didn’t even look back as I hurriedly walked over to Tom, still cringing. “I feel violated.”
“Why did they need to do that?” he asked, still incredulous over my “terrorist” hair.
“I don’t know. They didn’t say.”
Later, I reasoned to Tom that it must be because I have superpower hair and I just don’t know it. Like the princess in Tangled. He didn’t agree with this hypothesis for some strange reason, but I’m sure it must be it. Why else would I need a hair pat-down from the TSA?