We’re All Steak by Kelly Crigger

Updated: March 1, 2010

“Did anyone give you a package to carry?” the security dude asks me. Before I can even think of an honest response, “No” jumps out of my mouth.

I’ve traveled so much that it’s just automatic anymore. All I want is those prying, uncaring, cynical eyes off of me so I can go to the bar and down a tranquilizer before boarding yet another overcrowded flying shitcan. So it was a surreal astonishment when a TSP agent said, “over here please” one afternoon last Christmas before guiding me to the “rape booth” for an uncomfortable violation of my personal space. Here’s how the play-by-play went:

TSP: “Did anyone give you a package to carry for them?”
Me: “No.”
TSP: “Okay.”

Guard 1 looks over at Guard 2 who’s intently studying a bag on the X-Ray. I recognize the bag as mine.

Me: “Oh shit.”
TSP: “What Sir?”
Me: “Nothing.”

Guard 2 gives the super-secret ‘nod of knowing’ to Guard 1, who turns to me.

TSP: “Come this way Sir.”
Me: “Why are you pulling out gloves?”
TSP: “What gloves?”
Me: “Those gloves.”
TSP: “Just a precaution. Nothing to worry about until you see a tube ‘o lube.”
Me: “Don’t joke.”
TSP: “Am I laughing?”
Me: “Is that a question or an attempt to coddle me?”
TSP: “Do you need coddling?”
Me: “Grief counseling will be in order if you break out anything labeled ‘petroleum jelly.’”

Guard 2 gives another nod and I’m sure they’ve just had a telepathic conversation about my impending bodily violation. More guards gather on the fringe, including one with a vicious looking canine. I suddenly know how a steak feels.

TSP: “Sir, I’ll ask again. Did anyone give you anything…”
Me: “It was my mommy!” I blurt out.
TSP: “Your mommy?”
Me: “I mean my mom.”
TSP: “What did she do? Make the big bad boogie man come to town?”
Me: “No! Those closets were terrifying!”
TSP: “Do you have something to hide?”
Me: “No! I mean yes. I mean whatever’s in there, it’s my mom’s fault.”

My shaky voice fails to convince the guard. A rare, uncomfortable silence ensues and although I welcome the lack of sarcastic questions, I want to run. The bomb sniffing ninja dog forces me to reconsider.

TSP: “Do I need to ask?”
Me: “She gave me a gift to give to my sons.”
TSP: “Is it in your bag now?”
Me: “Yes.”
TSP: “But I asked you already if anyone had given you anything and you said no.”
Me: “I know. It was a Pavlovian response.”
TSP: “A what?”
Me: “He had a dog…”
TSP: “I know who Pavlov was.”
Me: “Then why did you…?”
TSP: “Because I’m a bit dismayed to be categorized as a canine experiment. My job isn’t incredibly difficult, but I’m on the front line of stopping another 9-11, sir!”
Me: “I’m not trivializing your job.”
TSP: “But you compared it to Pavlov.”
Me: “I did, I’m sorry.”
TSP: “What’s in your bag?”
Me: “I don’t know. My mother gave me a gift to give to my boys.”
TSP: “You said that.”
Me: “And I was telling the truth.”
TSP: “Finally.”
Me: “I’m not lying.”
TSP: “But your credibility is in question, wouldn’t you agree?”
Me: “You got me there. Please put away that tube. You told me I didn’t have to be worried unless…”
TSP: “We’re going to have to open the gift.”
Me: “And ruin the surprise for my boys?”
TSP: “Would you prefer I open something else?” He holds up the tube for emphasis.
Me: “Sucks for them. Is that a taser?”

“Here’s the wires,” Guard 1 says as he pulls an iPod out of the upper pocket of my backpack.
“The machine says something underneath is organic, though,” Guard 2 interjects, shooting me a suspicious shoe-bomber look. “Cut it open.”
Guard 1 gives the perfectly wrapped box a Jack-the-Ripper and slices it open so efficiently I have an “Iron Chef” flashback. Three guards finger their weapons as the dog drools over my filet-like thigh. I get the feeling everyone has visions of themselves on the cover of Time thwarting another 9-11 and each one wants to be the first to put two in my chest.

“Fed him lately?” I jest as my piss hits the floor next to the drooling dog.

“Are you kidding me?” Guard 2 suddenly lets out as the final piece of wrapping falls away to reveal…Playdo. “Fucking Playdo,” he laments. “Beneath an iPod!” Fourteen guards gently lift their trigger fingers as the brightest part of their day fades away in abysmal disappointment.

“I don’t get it,” I say.
“The X-Ray machine saw an organic material beneath a group of wires. Looked like a bomb,” Guard 1 confides in me as he powers down his taser. “Guess you’re good to go.”

I was allowed to leave unconfined and more thankful than a thoroughbred in a barn full of fillies. But not fourteen steps later the universe taught me a valuable lesson as another man zipped past me. A man running, whether it’s from fear or joy, makes no difference to a dog. We’re all steak to a canine. You just have to be faster than the steak next to you.




  1. Tarantula

    March 2, 2010 at 8:19 am

    And these filthy wastes of MY O2 will allow f**knuts onto a plane with oversized carry-ons, no id’s, or even let someone walk right through a restricted door while they are forcing a 4 year old crippled kid to take off his leg braces to walk through a metal detector! These idiots, who are hired at lousy wages, are under-educated, feel that they need to threaten a guy over play dough? Shit! When can I fly again? I am going to pack play dough, head phnes, and batteries together!!! Screw them! They lost 200 fire arms in 2009, and still kept their jobs at the TSA!

  2. That Guy

    March 2, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Just another reason I am so happy to be flying armed…get to skip that fiasco!


    March 2, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    9/11 changed everything for the worse. I do not want the government to “protect”me.I want to do it myself and take the responsibility onto my aging broad shoulders.I do not want to be treated like a criminal wannabe! The Israelis have trained interrogators who walk down the waiting lines and greet people couteously ,have conversations with them and study their body language and facial expressions.If something is suspect,they are pulled out of line.Looks like it works,they are surrounded by their enemies. Would that work here in the USA? I know we have a much bigger airline system than them, the problem is that everyone is suspect with our system.Woe to any aspiring virgin deflowerer that pulls a carpet knife on me! I still use my 100 pound heavybag and bounce it around a balloon.I would give him an American Knuckle Sandwich,that would have had Rocky Marciano take notice!

  4. Tarantula

    March 2, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Good on ya, Joey! Self defense is the only way to go. The supreme court of Vermont and the US Supreme court have both held that law enforecement/police are the for the greater society and the protection thereof. They are under no contractual or legal obligation to respond if called on 911. At least, those decisions were upheld as of 1999 when I finished college. Stand strong. Stand tall. Fight hard!

  5. Gutterfighter

    March 7, 2010 at 1:33 am

    I agree with most of what was said here. Does the TSA have some idiots working for them? Yes they do! Out of 50 thousand Officers, you are bound to have a few. The problem is TSA has more than a few. But also, a lack of and an ever changing leadership that has a hard time deciding what exactly the mission is. The American public in general is more than willing to be subjected to the inconvienence of the security checkpoint, but you have a few loud mouth liberal blowhards (in the media) who keep the TSA from running security check points the way they should be. Isreali security is very good at what they do, I know…I have spent time with them, but if we addopted their system, the ACLU and all the liberal blowhards would be suing us all! Big changes need to be made, better hiring standards and a little less political correctness as well as more independant judgement by individual (better) officers would go a long way in “fixing” this issue. There are just so many other loop holes in the entire Counter and Anti-Terrorism system that need to be addressed, that it makes no sense to keep bashing the (mostly) normal hard working TSOs at the airports. Besides, I think the readers of Ranger-Up are on the same side…if somthing went down on a plane, I would want to be sitting right next to you!—Gutterfighter

  6. Kelly C

    March 7, 2010 at 9:23 am

    The point of the story wasn’t to bash the TSA. It was to show that you should never put a package of unknown origin into your carry on bag, especially if it turns out to be Playdoh because that sets off everyone’s Spidey Sense…including the dog.

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Some guys don't like dirty diapers, but love to bounce drunks out of bars with their dads.