‘What’s In The Pocket?’

#ShitTSASays chronicles the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s ludicrous mistreatment and profiling of Muslims while flying. Send your story to editorial@muslim-girl-2021-production.mystagingwebsite.com.

Nada Awwad

During the summer of 2014, I was traveling from Montreal — where I had spent five weeks in a French immersion program — to Amman, Jordan, where I would be crossing the border into Palestine.
While I have never experienced overt racism or racial profiling — to my knowledge at least — in an airport, I had two humorous encounters.
As I was going through security to get into my gate, the security agent pointed out that my water bottle was not empty so I began to drink it as quickly as possible. As I’m drinking my water, I heard someone jokingly say, “Chug, chug, chug, chug, chug.”
When I looked up to see who it was, I was surprised to see that it was a different security agent, I could not stop laughing.
Moments later, as my carry-on was going through the scanner it was stopped because they couldn’t tell what was in the outer pocket. A security agent looks at me and said, “What’s in the pocket?”
To which I responded, “I don’t know, open it up.”
He looked worried and confused and again repeated, “What’s in the pocket?” in a more stern manner. Again I said, “I don’t remember, just open it up and look.” He began slowly opening the pocket with a look of worry on his face, he reached in slowly and pulled out my travel-size French-English dictionary.
As soon as I saw it I said, “Oh yeah! My dictionary! I forgot I had that there, haha.” He did not look amused at all.