I swabbed positive for explosives and got a patdown by the TSA. Double win.

And I’m still waiting for them to call. Or send me flowers and chocolates. Or even ask for a follow-up pat down. No wonder people complain.

School for the kids is finally out for the summer, which gives me a chance to reflect over some special moments. I spent hours completing a bit of a science experiment growing crystals with Charlie. Well, he did the work – I just harassed him over it, and cleaned up. There were lots of chemicals involved. Crystal growing is serious science, people! With my serious science hat on, when he’d finished his experiment I rinsed all the containers out by hand (with no gloves) down the kitchen sink (as you do).

I must say right now that I do have a bit of a reputation for staining my hands. If there is food colouring or fish sauce involved, I will wear it. I am guessing there was probably more going all over me than going down the sink.What can I say? It’s a gift.

Because I am an awesome wonderwoman, I cleaned everything up, had a quick shower, packed a suitcase and headed to the airport to hop on a flight.

Sidebar: My husband will tell you I am a *terrible* traveller. He’s right. I get stopped at almost every security point. In fact, once I got stopped at Auckland getting *off* the plane, for a pat down. Seriously. Getting off.

And so it happened that because I was running a little late for the flight, I got stopped for a random swab. Awesome. The TSA agents at Denver were really nice about it. “We’ll have you on your way as soon as possible, ma’am.” And they got the little swab things and ran them on my hands, front and back. Then they put them in the little machine. Usually the machine says clear and off you go. At least, that’s what the TSA guy said as it was processing. He followed that comment with “Well, that usually never happens” as the screen flashed up bright red with EXPLOSIVES on it. (He said that, verbatim. I remember how weird it was to hear usually and never next to each other.)

My initial puzzlement lasted about 10 seconds until the science chemical thing slammed into my memory and the a-ha lightbulb went off. So from that point it was a little bit funny for me, but of course not so for the TSA who then had to get a female agent to pat me down (including the insides of my collar and my underpants/trousers!), and the other poor TSA guy who had to swab every electronic thing I had in my hand luggage – which was a lot – and put it all through the machine. Laptop, iPad, camera, video camera, iPhone… I’m a nerdy tech gal after all.

I wish I could have taken a picture. But my camera was being swabbed and I don’t think the TSA likes being on the receiving end of media.

I must now say that the TSA agents at Denver International Airport were absolutely brilliant. So professional, courteous, and really nice about something they knew was an inconvenience for me – but I knew they had good reason to stop me and do the whole thing after I tested positive for Explosives (which is kinda awesome. If you’re going to test positive for something, make it explosives). They didn’t ask for an explanation and I didn’t offer one. Plus, I had this weird Aussie accent and I was smiling a lot while it was all going on.

We waved each other goodbye as I grabbed my things and rushed to catch the little train to my gate. (I made the plane. I mean I made it to the plane in time for it to depart. Not that I actually built a plane. Because while I’m awesome, I don’t actually make planes out of anything other than paper, and they don’t fly very well. Which means I’m very smart because I have never decided to have a go at building an actual plane that, when it fell from the sky would kill people and that would make people cross.)

And that, my friends, is the coolest thing that has happened to me while flying. Ever.




  • As usual, you crack me up. I’ve had that awkward pat down before. In Dubai. Nothing like a woman in a black burkha grabbing your crotch. I highly recommend it for your next feel-up.

  • He was strangely unsurprised that this happened to me. He’s known me too long. 😉

  • Mmm. I like the whole mystery of that. In fact, “nothing like a woman in a black burqa grabbing your crotch” would make an excellent tweet. That’s just how I think. Meanwhile, Dubai is hot which puts it way down the bottom of my bucket list. No skiing.

  • I think the TSA should give out drink coupons after they do these pant downs.

    When I flew to Orange County recently….my left ankle came up as suspicious. Twice! I’d like to know what my ankle has been up to when I’m not paying attention.

  • “If you’re going to test positive for something, make it explosives.”


    Remind me that if we ever travel together to build in an extra half-hour for all the fun 🙂

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