Every Boy’s Got One Tour, Days 3-4
Dear Betty, the Lady Who Patted Me Down in the Security Line
at Memphis International Airport:
Hi, Betty! Remember me? I'm the passenger who asked, hopefully, “What does it mean when they punch a star into my boarding pass? That I'm going to get STAR treatment all the way to Louisville?”
And your boss replied, “No, it means we have to give you a full body pat down. Step behind the yellow line, please. Betty, female pat down!”
And then he sent me to you.
As we have been through so much together, Betty, I don't feel funny admitting that, though I may not have shown it at the time, I was a bit taken aback. We had, after all, only just met. It seemed a bit forward of you to ask, so early in our relationship, if you could touch my “breasts, inner thighs, sides, lower back, and buttocks.”
But I understand the need to keep our airlines secure. I know that terrorists come in many shapes and guises. It would be sexist and ageist to think only men between the ages of 18-45 can be terrorists. Two young lady terrorists allegedly brought down a pair of jets in Russia recently, after all.
So I can totally understand.
And I do know that it was nothing personal, and that because I'd gotten the STAR punched into my boarding pass, it meant my bags, and my person, had been selected for random security check.
But I wonder if you've ever considered mentioning to your REAL boss—you know, Mr. Rumsfeld–that while patting down someone like me, who is unlikely to be a terrorist, you might be letting the real thing get away? Just a thought.
Because you know those lady terrorists back in Russia? I strongly suspect—though I could be wrong—that they were not wearing stretch cords, a tank top, and fuchsia cowboy boots (which you made me take off and thoroughly Z-rayed. Kudos to you for that, by the way).
I'm just saying, especially considering that lycra melts at high temperatures.
It's true I'm not an expert on terrorism, so I shouldn't speculate. And I DON'T mean to imply that anyone wearing lycra should automatically be excluded from random pat downs.
But the thing about lycra is…there really is no room to hide anything under it. I mean, anyone with a passing familiarity of female anatomy should realize that with lycra, what you see is what you get.
But though these thoughts undoubtedly passed through your head, Betty, when you saw me, you did the job you were being paid to do, which I admire. Because it IS possible that someone just like me—and the 87 year old woman in line to be patted down after me—could be harboring explosives on her person, in spite of the lycra. It's true I DO wear an A cup. There is no telling what I could have in there!
So I did as you asked, and stepped behind the yellow line, then put my feet in the foot-sized cut outs where you indicated I should stand with my arms stretched out at my sides, palms facing upwards.
And when you said, “I'm going to feel your breasts now,” I went, “Go for it,” which is something I bet a lot of guys I dated in the past would have really liked to hear. And you didn't even have to buy me dinner first!
Don't worry, I'm not holding it against you that you didn't buy me anything, Betty. Even after touching my inner thighs and buttocks, which, back when I was dating, would have taken six or seven dinners, plus multiple movies, a swearing off of all other women, and utterance of the L word at LEAST to get you that far.
And I seriously don't feel at all violated, because you were so nice about it, telling me all the good places to go and eat in the airport, while you were feeling me up. Sadly, by the time I reached the food court, due to the length of my security pat down, it was closed. So I was forced to dine on cashews and beef jerky purchased from the airport's Hudson News.
But don't worry, Betty. I'm not feeling sorry for myself. It's YOU I feel sorry for, having to touch women's private parts all day. And you probably don't even make half of what a gynecologist does!
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know, no hard feelings, even if you DIDN'T buy me dinner. You just keep on being you. You go, girl!
Dear Beverly, Front Desk Attendant at the Louisville Hyatt,
Hi! Remember me?
I recognize that you work for one of the world's foremost hotel chains. I applaud your employer's efforts to combat global warming by installing energy-saving florescent bulbs in all of its hotel rooms, even if they do cast everything in a sickly, “Office Space” sort of light that depresses me more than I can say, and, in fact, made me go out and buy a candle at Walgreens to place by the side of the bathtub so that I can actually see what I'm reading during my evening soak, since it's dark as Tom Sawyer's cave in there. I'll admit, it made me feel a little bit like Abe Lincoln, studying by candlelight in his log cabin. But whatever.
The point, Beverly, is that I respect your hotel chain, and their whole, Save the Earth, Don't Change the Sheets Every Night policy.
I must take issue, however, with you—specifically your attitude, particularly considering the fact that I am, in fact, a paying customer in your place of work.
Because when I stepped up to your desk and asked if you could call housekeeping, and have them clean my room (I didn't want to mention the REAL reason I needed this, which was that I was out of toilet paper, because there is a conference of the American Football Coaches Association taking place in this hotel, and there were all these burly men milling around in satin warm-up suits, and I didn't want them to know about my, you know. PROBLEM. With the toilet paper.
Because I am the ONLY WOMEN IN THIS ENTIRE HOTEL, besides you, of course, Beverly, these men, every time they see me, ask me, “Hey, l'il lady. Where you headed, so spiffied up?” and when I say, “To an event,” they say, “Skip your event, and have a beer with us.”
Frankly, I do not think it is proper for married ladies to have a beer with coaches, even if they are married, too, as they all are. Even if they happen to be Princess Diaries fans, which, I can assure you, none of them are), you said, “The hotel is full to capacity, and we can only send housekeeping to VIP rooms today.”
My problems with this statement, Beverly, are multiple. Probably most importantly, just from a hotel guest POV, is: Am I not a VIP? By which I don't mean that the author of The Princess Diaries is more important than a football coach. But that, in an egalitarian society like ours, shouldn't EVERY guest at a hotel be a VIP? Did my publisher not pay full rate, or something? Did they book my room through Orbitz?
And even if they did, does that somehow not entitle me to toilet paper? Does someone who is with the American Football Coaches Association “rate” cleaning of their room before the SOLE WOMAN IN THE ENTIRE HOTEL (besides you, of course, Beverly)?
But I decided not to “go there” with you, Beverly, because I got the feeling maybe you were new at the job. Surely they didn't tell you at Hospitality School to inform guests at your hotel that their room would not be cleaned because they aren't VIPs.
So instead, I merely asked you if I could borrow a pair of scissors.
To which you replied, “No.”
Not, “No, I'm sorry, ma'am, but if you'd like to step over to our gift shop, you could purchase some.”
Instead, you said, “No.”
I'll admit, this shocked me. I had gone down to your front desk, confi
dent that the clerks there would lend me scissors, as countless clerks in countless hotels have in the past, as travelers can no longer take scissors on airplanes, due to the high probability of one of us using them to stab ourselves with during the interminably long wait to get on board the plane, or possibly while being felt up by Betty.
When I explained my situation to you—that I had borrowed many scissors from many front desks in the past—you picked up the phone, which hadn't rung, and dialed a number. Perplexed, I asked who you were calling. You said, “I'm calling about the scissors.”
I assumed you were calling housekeeping to ask them to bring scissors to my room, which would of course put a dent in their busy VIP room-cleaning schedule. I did not want this. Besides, I was on my way out the door. I didn't want to wait around for housekeeping. All I wanted to do was borrow, for FIVE SECONDS ONLY, the scissors you keep behind the desk, and which I KNOW you keep behind the front desk, because I ran a dorm for ten years and there were ALWAYS scissors behind the front desk.
When I explained this, you said, “We can't let people borrow our scissors. They take them.”
Which is when I said to you, “I will give you my purse as collateral if you let me borrow your scissors for FIVE SECONDS.”
That is when you finally hung up the phone and produced the scissors. I handed you my bag. Then I took the scissors and proceeded to head to the ladies room to use them.
Which is when you called to me and said, “Wait! You can't take those away. You have to use them in front of me.”
I turned to you, and–in front of the many members of the American Football Coaches Association who were now, of course, eagerly watching for the opportunity to ask me if I would like to have a beer, even though it was only eleven o'clock in the morning–said, “You want me to snip the tag to MY UNDERWEAR IN FRONT OF YOU?”
And to which you, incredibly, replied, “That is our policy.”
Honest, I didn't mean to snatch my purse away from you, after slamming the scissors back down onto the counter. You were, after all, just doing your job.
But you know what? So was Betty.
And Betty was a lot nicer about it. In fact, I feel LESS violated by my interaction with Betty than I do by my interaction with you, and Betty HAD HER HANDS BETWEEN MY THIGHS!!!!!
So, as I'm sure you can imagine, Beverly, the Hyatt is not going to be high on my list of places to stay anymore. Because in a world that is, let's face it, dominated by men, we girls need to stick together. We need to HELP each other. The men have the American Football Coaches Association. All we have, Beverly, is each other.
Betty is doing her part. I feel like I am doing mine.
But you, Beverly? You are not doing your part.. You have violated the sisterhood.
And that is so NOT COOL.
And I will expect the Hyatt to be sending me some free stuff because of it.