Are We Playing Our Cosmic Role?
Like a bull in a TSA screening
I'm a Taurus through and through. Don't believe me? Well, that's me up there in the picture. As you can see, I even have the tattoo. But maybe you're thinking I'm just a guy with a really cool zodiac sign and a tattoo to match. Well let me tell you about how I got punched in the nuts by a TSA agent, then maybe you'll believe me.
Taureans are notoriously bull-headed.
Ganeshaspeaks.com says of the Taurean:
"You are stubborn at times, especially when you truly believe that you are right. It can take a lot to change your mind once you settle down in your routine. You are very strong-minded and tend to stick to your guns."
Yup. That's me.
So, I'm at a Willamette Writers conference in Portland, a few months pre-covid, when I get a call saying my father is in the hospital and he's not doing well. I'm already near the airport for the conference, so I get on the first plane to Albuquerque.
I have no bags, just me, my laptop and a one-way ticket. On arrival, my younger brother who is a doctor like my father picks me up.
Most of my seven brothers and sisters are pretty successful and good all around people. Me? I'm the black sheep of the family, or maybe I'm just playing my role assigned by the stars.
My father turns out to be ok. He's out of the woods and clearly not going to die anymore so, bye dad. It just doesn't feel right for a guy to see his once strong and vibrant father in the hospital.
It's 4 in the morning, so with plenty of time on my hands, I watch a YouTube video on How to Catch an Uber. I'd tried once before, a few years ago on the Santa Monica pier, but every driver said, "Get out of my car, you’re not my fare”. WTF, I clearly see Uber cars swarming like bees on this ap, but I can't get a ride when one stops right in front of me? So, I deleted the ap and walked back to the hotel, swearing never to use Uber again.
Well, as I see what must be my ride heading down the lane, I also see a lifted 4x4 barrel past the Uber at about twice the posted speed limit. For safety, I step far back away from the road as the truck spins around and charges back up the road, forcing my ride to stop. Both drivers get out briefly, say a few words, then my driver picks me up.
On our way, my Uber driver explains that Mr. 4x4 left his cell phone in her car. She’d offered to take it back to him because the man was flat out drunk, but he'd refused her offer and chased her down instead.
It was a bad decision on his part because just as my driver finished her story, we passed Mr. 4X4 pulled over on the side of the road, doing sobriety tests for Mr. Law Enforcement.
My driver felt really bad and told me she should have insisted on bringing his cell phone back to him.
"Or, maybe he's an alcoholic and this is just the universe, giving him a chance before he kills himself or someone else."
She said my answer made her feel better and dropped me off. I had a long wait before the gates opened, and as fate would have it, a man came by with a chessboard and asked me if I would like a game.
The situation seemed a little odd. He was just some random dude. He didn't have a plane ticket and said he didn't plan on getting one. Apparently, he just goes to the airport to play chess with strangers at 4 a.m. in the morning.
Well, we ate pistachios and played chess for the next few hours. We discussed chess as a metaphor for life and he told me about his many great accomplishments.
I weighed his words against the fact Mr. Chess looked a little homeless - and I ended up losing three games to the man, as well as most of the wisdom he tried to share with me.
Finally, the gate opened and I got my ticket back to Portland. However, fate stepped in again and the scanner alarm went off as I passed through security. I knew it was going off for me. I was the only one there, but I could have sworn I removed everything metal.
I was giving myself a quick check when the TSA guy tells me he's gonna need to pat me down.
Oh, no sir.
See I don't like being touched, but that's another story for another day. So, I reasoned with him.
"It's probably just something I forgot," and I continued to pat myself down.
"No. The machine says you have something down your pants."
I laugh, "That's what she said."
Mr. TSA guy didn't laugh.
He points to the screen behind me, where I see a little figure of a person, with a light blinking on his chucky. My brother hates it when I call it a chucky, as in "damn it... got me in the chucky," but his name's Charles, so that could be why he doesn't like it.
At this point I will also confess I'm a former police officer and based on the fact I purchased two one-way tickets in a 24 hour period, with no check-in baggage, I was well aware I looked like a drug mule. In fact, I expected greater scrutiny from TSA. I did not, however, expect TSA to fake a positive scanner hit.
"Sir, I can pat you down here or we can go into a private room."
"That's what she said."
He gave me a look as if to say, it wasn't funny the first time.
But it was. Right?
Whatever, I chose the private room, but not for the free massage. I had my own plan.
As soon as we entered the "private" room, I started taking off my clothes.
"Whoa! Hey, what are you doing?"
"Well, clearly you brought me into this "private" room, cause you want to see what I've got in my pants."
Now, it was just the two of us and one other guy in the room. I fully expected him to respond with, "That's what she said."
Instead, he tells me if I take off my clothes he will have me arrested.
"Indecent exposure." He says this with a straight face.
Now that's just insulting, dude.
"Sir, you don't have to take off your clothes. I will simply run my hands up your legs and caress your nether regions with the blade of my hand."
Ok, that caress and nether regions part. Those are my words, not his.
I wasn't in a joking mood anymore. Now, I was just pissed off. I even resisted the urge to give my standard response to such an obvious setup.
"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. You're telling me your machine says I'm hiding something in my pants and you want to feel me up. But, if I take off my clothes, you're gonna have me arrested."
"Sir, you're wasting my time. Like I said, it's a simple pat-down using the blade of my hand."
"Ok, look. I'm a former cop. I know how a pat-down works."
Yeah…. I said those words, former cop. I knew I sounded like a condescending ass. I knew, in my present situation he had all the power. I knew right then, he was probably getting a woody thinking I'm a former cop and a drug mule.
Knowing all of this you might ask, why would I tell him I was a former cop? Let's just blame it on the stars. Perhaps, I am simply a tool of the universe promoting change. Maybe in a cosmic sense, I'm only doing my portion, playing my zodialogical role in life.
Or, maybe I was just being a tool with no greater purpose because I spent the next thirty minutes arguing with Mr. TSA.
In the end, he tells me, "That's it, I'm calling the cops and you're going to miss your flight."
Damn it, I hate losing.
I think for a moment and a little bit of what Mr. Chess guy said earlier begins to make sense. I hold my arms straight out from my side, spread my legs and brace for the inevitable.
He's very gentle but purposeful, as he checks my collar, arms, chest, and waistband. I can tell he's a professional and he's likely done this many times before.
But we both know what's coming next. I know it and he knows it too.
What we don't know is why we feel helpless to do anything, except play out our predestined roles.
So, Mr. TSA runs his right hand down the outside of my leg, checks my right ankle, then comes up the inside of my leg. When he reaches my thigh he tucks his thumb down along the palm of his hand and brings his reverse karate chop up sharply - right into my nuts.
Mr. TSA paused a moment, gaging my reaction. We both knew all the cards were on the table now.
Would I fight him?
Would he now have a reason to call the cops for a more thorough search?
I will admit, he straightened me up with that chop, but I was not going to give him the satisfaction of reacting.
So Mr. TSA repeated the procedure on my left leg and added a little emphasis to the chop, for good measure.
I grunted and my safe word slipped out.
"I said, I still don't believe you had the right to touch me because you think I'm carrying drugs and I couldn't just take off my clothes to prove you wrong."
I demanded he provide me his name.
He pointed to his badge and said with a smile, "Why don't you take a picture, it'll last longer."
So I did. This is Mr. TSA there below, in all his post chucky chop glory.
I wish you could see the look on his face, but to be honest I really didn't change it much.
When I arrived back in Portland, I told my oldest son, a TSA agent punched me in the balls.
He didn't even question if I was telling a joke, trying to be funny.
He asked what I did to deserve it.
So I told him, adding that I was still pissed and considering reporting the guy.
"Yeah, but you won't, 'cause you were kinda being a jerk."
"I know. Plus, I like how he had the guts to actually do it."
In retrospect I ask myself, were we just two guys being stereotypical males?
Or were we in fact, doing our part to fulfill our cosmic roles?
Me, playing the awesome role of headstrong Taurean.
And Mr. TSA guy playing the role of….. what's the zodiac sign for dick?