Tuesday morning, Toronto airport security. I pile up all my belongings for the X-ray, and wait for them to start through before entering the metal detector. A burly security guy feeding the things into the machine looks at me and says “You have to take off your blazer.” I take off my suit jacket (not anything that I would describe as a blazer, but who’s going to argue with airport security?) and add it to the pile. I’m wearing a shirt that is almost exactly the colour of an orange Creamsicle — a colour that flatters me — with elbow-length sleeves. Security Guy says “That’s a lovely colour of shirt.” I look at him, stunned. He continues, “It goes very nicely with your skin”, and rubs his forearm in case I missed the reference to skin. I smile queasily, thank him, and dive for the metal detector.
Wednesday night, Chicago airport security. An announcement informs us that the threat level has been elevated to orange. There’s a tiny old lady checking boarding passes and passports at the entrance to security. The Air Canada agent had stroked through a printer error on my boarding pass with a blue marker at the time that I had checked in; now the ancient document checker peers at it intently (or maybe just short-sightedly), looks up at me suspiciously, then fiercely circles the blue mark with red crayon and marks a large “P” on both parts of my boarding pass. I know that this is not good. I pile everything (including my suit jacket this time) for X-ray, and a second document checker just before the metal detector waves me into a special line. I get a pat-down, and all my luggage is hand-searched and swabbed to test for explosives. Moral of this story: if a check-in agent strikes through anything on your boarding pass, make them print you a new one without the stroked-out information. Unless you like body searches.