Monday, March 15, 2010

Airport Security: Rated R

Isn't this a family-oriented blog? I need to give one of those "Mature Audience" warnings at this point about this post. This posting is meant for mature audiences. If there are young children in the room, ask them to leave before you continue reading.
Taylor and I have had the pleasure of flying in and out of Molene By-God, Illinois many times. Molene is the most direct route to Iowa University Hospital and our holy neurosurgeon doctor guru. Let me just tell you that the airport security folks in Molene take their jobs very very seriously. The screeners might even be elected positions there. It's like Atlanta airport security on steroids. Getting through security in Molene with Taylor almost requires a passport. Only a video of our screenings would convince you of the absurdity of it all.
Taylor has little titanium rods in his neck. He has had two major surgeries on those two very high vertebrae---the risky kind---well, only if you value being able to move your limbs before and after surgery. Ok, enough of that medical background. Ho Hum. Just get the picture in your mind: Incapacitated Adult Down Syndrome Male (I have the legal documents that state this), neck brace, physical pain, MRIs/X-rays in hand, airport wheel chair requested.. In Molene, for whatever reason, they always separated Taylor and me prior to going through the x-ray hall of fame. Remember, Taylor can't talk. When I went over to explain to him that he would sitting on the other side of the plexiglass from me (his mother and legal guardian), the security officer informed me, "Ma'am, if you touch him, we will have to isolate you. You are not allowed to approach him in any way." I guess they did not want me to remove the marijuana or meth I had stuffed into his pockets. But the fun was only about to begin.
Here's "Dwayne" the career ladder security officer-screener trying his darndest to engage Taylor in the airport's version of Simon Sez.

Dwayne: "Mr, Clausby, we are going to need for you to put your hands on top of your head."
Taylor: (Stage Direction): Does not move. Does not show any sign of recognition that any direction had been given.
Dwayne: "Mr. Clausby, put your right hand on top of your head."

I, with my nose pressed against the plexiglass, am thinking: Taylor does not know his right from his left. He has been in physical therapy for two years trying to get his hands on top of his head. If you can get him to do any of this, Dwayne, you're hired. You can give up this airport job and become a physical therapist.

Dwayne (On his walkie-talkie): "Darla, I'm going to need back up here. Mr. Clausby is not cooperating. We're going to need to do a pat-down and search."
Me: First of all, get his name right. It's only two syllables and you have not read it right yet. America, feeling safer yet? Mr. Clausby might be a terrorist.
Dwayne: "Mr. Clausby, we're going to need to pat you down. Spread your legs."
Taylor: (Stage notes) Sensing that someone is about to touch his pumice, tells Dwayne, "Not nice. Go nice. Mine. Not yours." (Translation: Nobody was going to touch Taylor's good-touch/bad touch bathing suit area. Especially Dwayne with his blue latex gloves. Sorry, Dwayne. No can do.)

Apart from being totally appalled, infuriated and ballistic, I am also a bit amused that neither Dwayne nor Darla are able to (1) Find any drugs on Taylor. I guess they concluded that he is not a "mule" (drug runner.) (2) Nor is Taylor any good at playing Simon Sez. Taylor never put his left foot in and shook it all about. Not even once. Following two or more directions has been a goal in his IEP since he was two. He was not going to suddenly "get it" because he was in an airport.
Relenting and coming to terms that Taylor was not able to "Do the Hokey Pokey," we were reunited after the truncated strip search. But! There was still the luggage! Taylor's bag was emptied and itemized. On the advice of my Physician Assistant sister, I had packed my expensive shampoos in little < 3 oz. specimen containers. This was the funniest part (and the R rated part). Darla and Dwayne, took one look at the three medicine specimen containers---full of white, pearly conditioners and assumed that Taylor had provided "specimens" for the doctor. Tense, furtive eye-contact between them told me that they were stumped. The only words Dwayne spoke to me were, "The doctor ordered these specimens?" D&D, homeland security protectors assumed that the contents in these little jars were.....well, uh.....semen. (Oh, come on! You gotta laugh!) But, you can believe they were not about to have that conversation with me---and certainly not with Mr.Can't-Even-Play-Airport-Simon-Sez-Drug-Smuggler Tyler Clausby.

By the time they finished with us, D&D even allowed Taylor to take a huge bottle of orange juice through security. Because I didn't want to pay $3.89 on the "other side," I told D&D that Taylor (Tyler) was diabetic. They didn't even flinch. Diabetic and uncooperative. Maybe they radioed ahead to Atlanta.
"Let him pass!" Dwayne said. "Let him pass on through!"
Homeland Security heard from me. Believe it.
Everybody sing: "And you do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around....that's what it'a all about."


  1. Do you remember that line from Steel Magnolias, something like, "Laughing through tears is my favorite emotion."? Actually, the steel magnolia is a pretty good image, too!
    Really, Molene?!!

  2. We've got to teach Taylor to say, "Ji-had," for the next time he has to pass through Molene! Ha!!

  3. Just Amazing , and the thing that gets me is Darla and DeeeWanye maybe couldn't hack it and McDonalds so they got this airport security job ......... Marianne the 80 year old woman in the wheelchair that was being search yesterday at the airport was my mother-in-law.


  4. Have you seen Taylor going through his surfing moves on my diving board? Those Kamekazee pilots got nothing on Taylor! Maybe we all should take your travels more seriously...

    Oh my goodness, what a great laugh! Thanks, I needed that!

  5. hysterical...and so true!!!

    we have fun going through security with a wheelchair and stroller!

    But James gets even by screaming when they take his binkie away.

  6. I want to laugh, cry and scream with fury! It's just hard to figure out which to do first!


Thank you so much for your comments. I know it's scary to put yourself out there. I really appreciate your being on this journey with me. You really are brave..