The first time I traveled after September 11th was at the end of October to Los Angeles for the 2001 Microsoft Professional Developer's Conference. Yes, I've been to a Microsoft conference. Laugh all you want - they had free food and beer and a private "Counting Crows" concert. So step off. The conference itself was a really great learning experience. By "really great learning experience", I mean three days of computer geeks arguing "C++ is better than VB" and "How to migrate your existing VB 6 code to VB.Net in order to take advantage of JIT compiling". There's a small part of me that finds these topics interesting. There's also a small part of me that likes Ashlee Simpson - it's a part of me, it doesn't mean I have to be proud of it.
At the end of the conference week I met up with my friend Anna Beth and her boyfriend Mike for some fun for Halloween night. Anna Beth worked at the L.A. Zoo, so I was able to get a VIP tour. Not too shabby. That night, Anna Beth had the line a costume party in the hills at the house of some alumni from Duke University. I went as a guy from Florida. The party was awesome - there were at least four women dressed as a "sexy" Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz". One guy was dressed as Tony Soprano.
Then there is the guy who would get me into trouble with airport security. How? Thanks for asking. This one particular guy was dressed as the "Trojan Man". He had the blue tights and Mercury helmut and two large bags of condoms. He went around the party giving out handfuls of condoms to everyone there. At some point I ended up with two pockets full of shiny blue packets. The party went on and on and on. We eventually ended up at some diner for pancakes and coffee before Anna Beth and Mike dropped me off LAX for the flight home.
It was about 4am and the ticket desks weren't even open yet. I waited around, mulling a sleep-less hangover and stomach full of pancakes. Time passed way too slowly, but eventually the ticket agents arrived and checked us all in. I followed the lines around to security. This was a little over a month after, so the airport rent-a-cops (unaware that they would soon be replaced) were on ultra, super extra double alertness.
I took out my laptop and placed it in a separate tray. My keys and cellphone were in the laptop bag. This was pre shoe bomber days, so the shoes stayed on - to the benefit of all around. The rent-a-cop waved for me to come through the metal detector.
The guards eyes lowered towards my crotch. My heart started racing with anticipation. Then I realized she was looking at my belt buckle. I took my belt off (calm down ladies) and walked through again.
"Do you have anything in your pockets?"
I reached into my pockets and pulled out two large handfuls of Trojan condoms. The guard stared at me. The x-ray tech stared at me. The two sheriffs deputies stared at me. All the other passengers stared at me.
"You never know." I muttered as I put the condoms into a tray normally used for spare change.
We promised never to speak of it again.
Thank goodness the TSA didn't exist yet.