I’m serious. I’m a patriotic, law-abiding, tax-paying, voting citizen of the good ol’ US of A. I have ancestors who have fought in every war in our nations illustrious history. My forefathers were among the earliest colonists. I still get chills when I hear the “Star-Spangled Banner”. I am an American.
Which is why I was shocked and humiliated on my recent trip to Washington, D.C. to find myself being pulled aside and searched in a very personal manner.
As most of my readers will know, my brother, his family and mine got together at his home in Virginia a couple of weeks ago. We had a great visit and saw some incredible fall foliage. While we were there, we had planned to tour our nation’s capital together. One of the sites on the itinerary was the U.S. Capitol building.
I took great pains in preparing for the day to deliberately eliminate items from my attire that might arouse suspicion. I left my pocket knife in the hotel room. I chose not to wear my shotgun shell studded belt since it has a lot of extra metal on it, opting instead for a plain black leather job.
I had already passed through a number of metal detectors without incident. We went through the very thorough security checkpoint to enter the capitol building without a hitch. Just innocent tourists seeing the sights and pointing them out to our kids.
Having obtained some passes to the Senate gallery from our tour guide, we decided to drop in and see our tax dollars at work. We dropped off those items, such as cameras, etc., that were prohibited at the check room and proceeded to yet another security point.
The rest of our group went through with no problem and I assumed that I was okay as well. As I approached the gate, I noticed a box of disposable rubber gloves on top. It seemed as if a few were missing. The forefinger of one stuck ominously out of the slot in the box. It seemed to fold over and point itself at me as I handed my keys to the guard.
“I’m sorry, sir,” he said, “You can’t take these into the Senate.”
“Are you serious?” I asked. “These are keys.”
At my use of the word “serious”, his left eyebrow arched slightly as if to say, “I never joke.”
“This is a battery-operated, electronic device,” he replied, pointing to the remote keyless entry thing-a-ma-bob that opens the door to my Jeep. “You can’t take battery operated, electronic devices into the Senate. Please take it back down to the check-room.”
Feeling a bit foolish (although, I don’t know why) I made my back down the corridor to the check room. The attendant grinned when he saw me.
“Back so soon?”
Wordlessly, I handed him my key ring.
“Ah,” he said knowingly, “Happens all the time.”
Feeling a little less confident I once again approached the security point. The two guards, one male and one female, were eyeing me suspiciously. The rubber finger sticking out of the box of gloves seemed to be getting longer. I took a deep breath and walked through the gate.
Sure enough, it lit up like a Christmas tree and emitted a loud tone that caused several heads in the corridor to turn and look at me as if I should be on the next boat to Guantanamo.
“Sir, please step over to the side and raise your hands,” the female guard instructed with all the sternness of a fifth grade English teacher reprimanding a little boy for saying “Ain’t”.
Right there, in front of my family and the world, I stood with my hands in the air as she swept me from head to toe with a battery-operated electronic device that for some reason made me think of these guys.
As the device passed over my right pants pocket, it gave a loud “Beep”. I flinched, expecting to be vaporized at any second. The guard’s eyes went to the box of rubber gloves.
It was at that moment that I had an epiphany and discovered what James meant by “effectual, fervent prayer.” Thankfully, God intervened and the gloves remained in the box.
“Sir, what do you have in your pocket?” She asked coldy.
Before I could stammer out that I had a pocketful of change, she suddenly decided to FRISK me and began grabbing handfuls of my leg.
“It’s change, it’s nothing but money,” I was finally able to gasp.
She finally became convinced that I was telling the truth and let me pass, but my humiliation was complete.
Can you believe that? It was money, legal tender that had been validated and minted under the authority of the very people I was going to see working (?).
Then, after all of that, we entered the Senate and saw a grand total of five Senators on the job. I have a hunch the other ninety-five were hard at work coming up with a bi-partisan plan to further humiliate their constituents.
Now, I realize that security is important. One of the most basic rights guaranteed to American citizens is the government’s protection of the innocent’s right-to-life from those who would threaten them.
That makes me wonder, how strictly do they search the Senators before they release them upon the general public?