A bag . . . or a box? – Your when is now – By Todd Mitchem

September 27, 2016 by Mobile Beat

I looked up at the man standing in front of me in the airport TSA line. He looked like any ordinary man, simply dressed and cleanly shaven. I could see in his eyes he was unsettled about something; I thought ittsa-uniform could be nervousness about travel, or he had an important meeting and was anxious to get it over. As I was mulling all of the situations that could make someone nervous at the airport, the mystery man pushed his plastic bin containing his belongings into the security scanner and got in line for the final body scan. Since he didn’t present any immediate signs of hostility or danger, I ignored him and his restless agitation, returning my attention to placing my items into one of the plastic bins for scanning. I was about to enter the body scanner just as the man exited it on the other end. That’s when everything changed. Suddenly, one of the TSA agents began barking directions to the man in front of me in a way I had not heard before, “Sir, I need you to remove the contents of that bag, NOW!” The TSA agent and some of the security guards who gathered around this man had terrified looks in their eyes; the man in front of me was unsettlingly calm, but emotionally on edge. As directed by the agent, he gently reached into his large travel bag. The man moved his hands carefully and, with utmost care, pulled something out that put more fear in everyone around him. It was the largest Ziploc bag I have ever seen, with contents known only to the lone traveler. No one behind me noticed the bag, chiefly because of the growing number of TSA agents, security, and police gathering around at an alarming rate. But as the crowd of security grew, it was clear even to the most distracted traveler something was wrong. And there I was, right next to this man and his mysterious bag.

This dark-haired man held up the cryptic bag in front of the TSA agent who had originally given him the orders. The contents of this special container were a mystery to anyone looking on; it looked like light gray powder and there was a lot of it. The man gently sat it on the counter. I noticed the police officers standing next to me reflexively slid their hands up to the holsters of their side arms as if planning a response to a possible attack. It was then I asked myself, “How did I end up in this situation?” “Was I so distracted I ignored all the signs this man might be a terrorist?” “Would I be shot in the crossfire?” I froze. Until, a few seconds later, I was asked by a police officer to step into one of the TSA check stations, right next to this bag-carrying individual. So I did. The line of people behind me was stopped, with a guard blocking the only possible entrance to the other side of security. I had never felt more vividly I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. You could feel the fear of everyone rising, as no one could figure out what was in the bag and if it was causing harm to the people around it. What if the contents were already airborne? What if everyone was already sick from whatever was in the bag?! The TSA officer looked at the man and sternly said, “Explain.” As the man with the bag started to explain what was in the bag, the mood of the crowd immediately surrounding him began to quickly change. To Read More Click HERE!

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