April 23, 2010

Why Teenagers Hate Us

I just got back from taking Matt to the airport for a redeye flight to Mississipi. This weekend, he will join his dad's extended family for another memorial service.

These past few weeks in our home have been good, but not really normal, if that makes any sense.  We have managed to get along with each other famously, as if we had never had issues before. But because of the grieving and the weirdness of his being back here so suddenly, we haven't really talked about anything. In fact, we talk very little. I am so hyper aware of not rocking the boat that I hardly say more than "How was your day?" and "I love you".  Still, it is calm, and good.

On our drive to SeaTac tonight, just Matt and me, we had a nice chat, though. He asked me to help him look into some pre-college work he can do. (He asked me for help!). We had to stop by his dad's house to pick up the urn - his dad's ashes - so that he could carry them on the plane.  For whatever insane reason, CFIL (cantankerous father-in-law) didn't want them shipped or mailed, so Matt had to carry them on the plane.  This was fine; we had them all sealed up properly for the airlines and TSA, and the box fit perfectly in an old backpack that Matt's dad used to carry around.

As we were leaving the house, I asked him if he was ok.  I mean, how weird is that, to be carrying your dad's ashes around in a wooden box in a backpack? I'm good, he said.

Then, walking through the airport, out of the blue, he says,

"This is weird."
"What's that?" I ask.
"Carrying this backpack.  With my dad in it. He used to carry this backpack around everywhere, all the time. I bet he never thought he'd be going to Mississippi riding in his own backpack."

I think my burst of laughter was appropriate, because he smiled. He was trying to be funny. I squeezed his hand and said,

"Yep, it's weird. But you still have your sense of humor.  Your dad would like that."

I stuck around while he was going through security, just to make sure he got through ok, with the box of ashes and all.  There are actually regulations for carrying human remains on an airplane, in case you didn't know.  I watched him take his shoes off and then he disappeared behind a pillar while getting all checked through.

The next thing I hear is some guy yelling,


I rush down to where I can see Matt from around the wall, and I realize the guy is yelling at him

Some idiot at TSA, is yelling at a teenager, at midnight, in the airport, carrying his dad's freakin' ashes in a box, to pull up his pants.

You have got to be fucking kidding me.

I thought I was going to come unglued. Had I not been afraid of being arrested for some other heinous crime, like standing up for my kid, I'd have blown a gasket all over the guy.

As it was, I just stood there and started to cry.  Another TSA guy came over to me and nicely handed me a screwdriver and told me that Matt had it in the backpack and he coudn't carry it on the plane. I wanted to stab his eyes out with it, but I just said, thanks.

Then I asked him if he was a supervisor. He could see I was crying, and he said he wasn't one, but he'd get me one if I needed him to.

"No," I said, sniffing, "it's just that that guy over there is yelling at my kid to pull his pants up. Is there some breach of security that his boxers are showing?"

"No, ma'am, no, it's just that it's not real appropriate for the airport."  (Evidently school, the general public and everywhere else on earth is ok)

"Yea," I said, starting to cry harder, "he's 17. He's carrying his dad's ashes in that backpack. Maybe that guy could lighten up a little."

The nice TSA man looked over at the asshole TSA man and nodded his head, and he looked like he might say he was sorry, but I walked away.

I cried all the way to my car; people must have thought I had just bid farewell to one of the many soldiers in the airport tonight.  I sat in my car and cried until all my makeup was gone and I thought I could drive home without a major accident.

I made it ok, and I realized that the tears weren't so much about the mean TSA man. I had my little breakdown because my kid was leaving. Again. Already. I can hardly bear saying goodbye every morning when he goes to school, and here is, leaving for four whole days, when I only just got him back.

I know he's coming back, I know I'm being silly and dramatic.


The guy at TSA? 

No wonder teenagers hate us.


  1. I think the problem with people is that we never stop to think what someone else is going through. We never think other people have a story, a day, a crisis brewing under the surface. That TSA guy would have yelled at anyone because to him everyone is the same.

    I hope your son comes home safely, and you survive the days without him. :)

  2. Wow. Powerful, my dear. Things will all work out with Matt. I promise.

  3. Great story...very moving. Some people can be so insensitive and power mad like that asshole TSA guy. My kids live out of state and I see them twice a year, so every 6 months I go thru that scene at the airport myself. People say it gets easier, but I'm not so sure. Best wishes to you.

  4. I agree with everyone that the TSA guy had no right to yell at Matt, and my heart goes out to you and Matt and I wish that didn't have to happen...but for the record, Tam, I believe undergarments are just that and should be kept under their clothes and out of view. Which is why we actually DON'T allow it at school and I roll my eyes at it in public...
    (Don't hate me for being honest...just don't want you to become one of "those" moms...)