We’re All Steak by Kelly Crigger
“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?”
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?”
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?”
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.”
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.