Detained at Security for Having a *Bomb*

It’s snowing, non-stop a week ago Tuesday in Denver as I’m trying to catch a standby flight from Denver International Airport to a speech in Sacramento before the afternoon flights get canceled due to weather. I have an hour to spare. I put my bags on the belt and walk through the metal detector without a problem.

Until the TSA screener manning the X-Ray tells me not to move. Literally, he says, “don’t move”. I’ve been standing there for about two minutes when three or four other screeners come over and take a look at whatever is on his screen. I can’t see anything, and he won’t talk to me. When I ask him what the problem is, he won’t even make eye contact with me. But everyone else is looking at me.

Two police officers, or security guards, come and shut the entire line down and send everyone but me into another line. Now about 40 people are looking at me like I’m guilty. And then I stand there for 35 minutes, not allowed to move, not given a single answer of what is happening.

There are 11 people standing around the screen, one of them is taking photos with a special camera and sending them off to someone who keeps calling back on his cell phone. The whole time, I’m getting the sense that they are actually just observing me to see if I get nervous. I don’t look like a terrorist, but suddenly I feel like a terrorist.

Of course I’m nervous, because I now have about 20 minutes until my only chance out of the state leaves the ground and I still have to catch a train to my terminal. But I yawn and look straight at them to prove my innocence. Meantime, I’m thinking, “what did my kids slip into my briefcase that I didn’t know about?”

Eventually, they take me to one of their metal “examining” tables and take 6 swabs of my briefcase without touching anything on the inside. No explosives, so they gently take everything out of the case. 15 minutes and counting.

Finally, they pull out the last item – the power adapter for my new 11” Mac Air computer and a USB to Ethernet converter. Apparently, on an X-Ray machine, the aluminum magnetic power thingy (see the photo) looks strikingly similar to the fuse on a bomb. Pair it next to the USB Ethernet adapter (which they’d never seen before), and you have a recipe for delay.

I wasn’t sure whether to be mad at Apple for designing their plug like a bomb fuse, or angry with TSA for taking 45 minutes to figure out I wasn’t a terrorist. So I decided to be happy that TSA takes this stuff seriously and really is concerned about protecting our planes. They were doing their job, quite thoroughly, I might add. And I still made the flight with 3 minutes to spare. No worries.