Body Scanners at Eppley Give Suburban Mom a Cheap Thrill
The life of a suburban mom in Omaha, Nebraska, is pretty darn exciting. As we drive from soccer games to the grocery store to the pediatrician’s office, we sigh and try to remember what life was like before we became a chauffeur without the tips and cool uniform. But now, everything is about to change with the addition of the new body scanner at Eppley Airfield.
I first encountered one of these scanners at the Indianapolis airport a few months ago. After I was randomly chosen from a line of more than one thousand passengers who I thought looked a lot shadier than me, a TSA employee asked me to step inside a tiny booth. I secretly wondered if I was about to be beamed up to a new planet that needed a fearless women leader. As I searched inside the booth for a coin-operated telephone, I worried how long it was going to take the TSA employee to discover that my svelte body was not the result of several hours of working out at the gym each week, but instead the result of squeezing my cellulite—with the help of a putty knife, a crowbar, and a stick of butter—into a slimming body suit that was carefully hidden under my clothes.
After the security officer instructed me to stand on giant footprints that looked like they belonged to a Sasquatch instead of a human, I began to sweat profusely while imagining a group of TSA employees sitting in front of a big screen television stuffing popcorn in their mouths and laughing hysterically as they watched a chalk-like etching of my bloated body appear on the screen. As I stood in sweaty silence on the giant footprints, I was deriving absolutely no comfort from remembering a recent article that informed airport travelers that the officer who views the blurry images of naked bodies is apparently safe inside a remote, locked room—also known as a jail cell.
As a TSA employee shouted from somewhere in the distance (probably Chicago), “Put your arms over your head,” I cried out to anyone who was listening, “I already had my mammogram last month!” Out of habit and just in case two giant slides were going to emerge from the ceiling and squash the life out of any body parts that were protruding from my body, I held my breath, squeezed my eyes shut, and went to my happy place.
Five seconds seemed like five hours. Finally, the security officer motioned me off the Sasquatch footprints and out of the booth where he informed me that in the future I could choose to either stand in the scanner again or be frisked by a total stranger randomly chosen from the line behind me. It would be a tough decision led only by one factor—how exciting my day had really been up to that point.
I’m old enough to remember a time when traveling by air was a relaxing experience where passengers received real food, no one cared if our bags weighed sixty pounds or five thousand pounds, and the worst thing we had to worry about was whether the guy sitting next to us ate garlic for lunch.
By 2011, the TSA plans to install one thousand body scanners in airports around the country. I know that these scanners and those who view the images of airline passengers—in all our vulnerable, imperfect nakedness—help keep all of us safe. As a suburban mother who experiences very few thrills on a daily basis, I can’t wait.
I just hope that next time I have to step in that tiny booth that I remember to leave my pasties in my carry-on bag. Now that would be embarrassing.