Oh, Sir!

Posted: June 16, 2014 in Everyday Life

I realized a while ago that being called “Sir” usually means you’re in trouble or you’ve just done something dumb. Like “Oh Sir, you forgot your change” or “Oh Sir, you left your lights on”. You can substitute Ma’am for Sir. It works the same for women. Think back and try to remember a time when you were referred to as Sir or Ma’am and it was a good thing, except for maybe “Thank you Sir”. But we all know a “Thank you Sir” or Ma’am is not exactly heart-felt but said only for lacking anything else to end a conversation.

A few months ago, for work, I spent a week travel around the U.S. and Canada. Which means airports, light luggage, pass ports, walking around in lines in your sock feet and x-ray machines. But I take it very light-hearted. I just stand back and look at it and it’s quite a sight. 100’s of people nervously standing in line emptying their pockets, taking off their shoes, uncasing 100’s of dollars worth of computers from their protective bags and turning them over to uncaring hands and x-ray radiation exposure. Some people without socks standing barefooted in who knows what on the floor. I’d recommend not wearing flip-flops on these occasions. Everyone removing coats with one hand and holding all of their personal identification in the other. And at the same time stuffing all of their prized possessions and “travel stuff”  into plastic wash tubs. But amazingly it all goes like clockwork. That is until you hear those dreaded words “Oh Sir!” I got the “Oh Sir”  at least three times that day.

The first was “Oh Sir, take off your belt!” The buckle sets off the metal detector. Not removing your belt is a breach of protocol but not serious, probably no nights in jail will be involved and only a minor upset of this mechanical flow of human activity. No problem.

That done, I proceed toward the metal detector and I hear the second “Oh Sir” and I’m thinking wow I don’t have much else I can take off, maybe the socks but that’s about as far as I’d go not being acquainted with all of these people. Well it wasn’t clothing removal, but I was outrunning my wash tubs and my travel stuff, you must remain in pace with your wash tubs on the x-ray machine conveyor belt. The phrase being  “Oh Sir! Remain in pace with your items”. Ok I understand, I knew that. This must be a little higher breach because I think I sensed actual scorn from those behind me, I was upsetting the natural flow of  this so very uncomfortably unnatural routine. So I precisely remained in pace and proceeded precisely into and through the metal detector with not a peep from the machine. Over all of this human din, I actually heard sighs of relief from my fellow traveler strangers behind me. I had passed all the tests and was worthy to proceed with them on our journey.

Not so fast. The third “Oh Sir!” echoed through the line. “Oh Sir! Please come this way while your items are x-rayed again.”. You do not want to hear about your items in connection with the x-ray machine. This is a serious breach and definitely involves getting better acquainted with the TSA. I’m at this point wishing I had paid more attention to the news reports about water boarding. By this time there are three border guards squinting, pointing and discussing what was spotted on the X-ray monitor. Heck my GP didn’t examine my last CT scan this closely. I’m not being made privy to this information either. “Sir, stand here while I do a more complete search of your computer case”. Now I’m saying “Yes Sir” to a twenty-something border agent. With rubber gloves on he begins the search. I understand, even I on occasion have used rubber gloves searching through my suitcases. He pulls out the computer power supply, I say to myself, “that’s it! The wires, the square block of plastic, it appears like an explosive device.” But no, he continues searching. This time he pulls out a mechanical pencil, of course, a sharp-pointed object, one jab and then slowly inject your victim with lead, one slow click at a time. But no, he digs deeper, one wireless mouse, one disk drive, two alignment tools, an eraser, yellow highlighter, Verizon Jet Pack, my camera, directly to the bottom to my Altoids mints. I think, “of course, the Altoid’s Curiously Strong Menthe taste and smell of peppermint has set off some sort of explosive detector.” But he keeps digging.

By this time I offer my assistance. But that is my 4th breach of protocol, “Sir, you must remain silent and not approach the search!” A man could get shot for doing that one, it would not be pretty. Maybe an international incident. I remained extremely quiet. He was not finding what he was looking for here. They x-ray it again to get a better coordinate of what ever it was they were concerned with. Finally he said “Sir, I’m sorry but I’m just going to have to turn the case upside down and shake everything into a tub, I am sorry”. Afraid to speak or approach, I very slowly nod yes. Now he is shaking out old M&Ms, peanuts, pennies, broken hair comb teeth, pencil lead and used chewing gum wrapped in notepaper. This isn’t what they are looking for. He says, “you are probably wondering what I am looking for aren’t you.” Sensing that I can now speak, I said, “yes, what in the hell are you looking for”. I say that with a smile of course, the water boarding may still be needed to reveal a secret compartment or something. He says “we can see a small Allen wrench in the crease of the bag on x-ray but I just can’t get at it. The Allen wrench is on the forbidden tools list.” He continues to frantically dig inside the bag and finally triumphantly retrieves a small diameter Allen wrench. His fellow agents do a group high-five and I think they in unison yell something like “Go team!”. The agent then offered to place the wrench in the mail to me but they preferred to just throw the 25 cent item in the trash. I actually thought about having them mail it but I said they earned it, please keep it with my compliments.

I really found the whole experience interesting. That wrench has been in that bag for years and has gone through a dozen different x-ray machines without detection. And it makes you very fearful of just how many of those dastardly Allen wrenches could be out there just waiting to be put to use. The upside was, I’ve never been called sir so much in my life and I finally had the time to clean out my computer bag and I didn’t have to use rubber gloves this time.

Such is the life of John


  1. Ha! This is a great write! I loved hearing about all the “Sir”‘s you got at that airport! 😀 And Ha! on the allen wrenches waiting to be used as weapons! Maybe wrench someone’s ears off?! 😉

    One time in the St. Louis airport a security guy decides to random check my purse. Oh, good! she says, sarcastically. He got everything OUT and then COULDN’T it it all back in. So he ordered me to repack it! 😀

    Then one time, in the Denver airport, a security lady watched as my purse went through the scanner. Then she said, “I’m going to search your purse. I see a knife in there.” Ha! I was gonna’ say something, but just kept quiet. It turned out to be a pen.

    Luckily I pack my B.O.B. (vibrator) in the check-on bag. I never want the security people handling BOB!!! 😉 😛

    The first time I got called “Ma’am” I was in a store. I was only 19 years old. But, the person who called me “ma’am” was a very polite 4 year old boy who needed help. When I heard “ma’am” I turned around to see what old broad was being addressed. Ha! 😀

    Sorry for my long comments…but your posts are always so much fun to read and they always bring up memories for me! 🙂

    HUGS!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your comments can be as long as you want. I enjoy them immensely. 🙂

    I wouldn’t dream of going through a girl’s purse, I’m sure I couldn’t get it back together again. 😐

    Now B.O.B., I have heard of him! So nice that you travel with the big guy. It would be a hoot seeing him on an X-ray monitor but you are wise to keep him in the checked luggage. I’ve seen some very uptight and stressed TSA ladies that act like they could use a good B.O.B. before they come to work. I know they might be tempted to steal it or worse yet, borrow it for a few minutes. I think if I traveled with him, I put B.O.B. in one bag and the batteries in another. :O 😛 😉

    We keep track of the times we are called Sir or Ma’am and Hon. My come back is usually, “Hon!, I haven’t been called that in years, want to dance?” and wink at ’em. 😀

    Thanks for your comments Carolyn, I do enjoy them!


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