By Violet Moran
My sons and their wives swear they will never board a plane with me. I don’t understand because, really, all I had said to the Security Guard was, “It’s just my vibrator” when he pulled me over to inspect my suitcase. This was several years before 9/11 when we didn’t think about things you shouldn’t pack in your carry-on suitcase.
My oldest son and wife, Morgan and Garmit, who lived in Chicago, had invited me to join them on an inexpensive flight to see Jeff and Susan’s new house and new baby in Lawrence, Kansas. I met them in Chicago and we were in the Southwest Airlines boarding area when the incident occurred.
Having spent time recently with Jeff and Susan to help with Jeff’s health issues, the new baby and now the move, I knew that both of them had chronic backaches. Those stressors plus that of working as a lawyer and a professor in new positions had them both in need of relaxation.
I thought that I had discovered just the thing for them. I had bought this piece of electric equipment through my Chiropractor. It’s called a “Thumper” and is a hand-held electric massager about 2 feet long. I packed it very carefully in my carry-on suitcase. My worries about it being damaged on the trip were overshadowed by my desire to share this wonderful invention with Jeff and Susan. I’d found muscular relief from using Thumper and I wanted them to have the same experience. I was certain that they would love it and then buy one for themselves.
So here we are in the Security Inspection line for boarding Southwest Airlines in Chicago, me in one line and Morgan and Garmit in another line just next to me. When the Security Guard looking at the X-ray of my suitcase got a puzzled frown on his face and said to me, “I’m going to have to open your suitcase, Ma’am,” is when I told him, “Oh, that’s just my vibrator in there.”
I heard Morgan shout at me in a stern voice, “Don’t say that, Ma,” but in my rushed naïve moment I didn’t know what he was talking about. Morgan didn’t know I had packed Thumper and I thought he just didn’t want me saying something incorrect.
Not realizing what was wrong, I thought I had to explain this new device to the Guard. As he was taking me to the 2nd security level I told him, “It’s a different kind of vibrator, it does more than vibrate. It has these two round balls that move around and it thumps up and down quickly which is why it’s called Thumper.” I added the fact that “It has a long enough handle that you can do it yourself,” and, I commented, “It’s really a great vibrator and very relaxing.”
By then I noticed that the Guard was giving me an odd look that I didn’t understand. And out of the corner of my eye, I could see a blur of Moran and Garmit literally running down the hall with their suitcases and turning a corner out of my sight.
I thought it unusual behavior that they didn’t wait for me while the guard was checking my suitcase. But Southwest is a first-come-first-served, no-reserved-seats kind of airline so I figured they wanted to hurry in order to get seats in the same row for all of us. Because of my delay at Security Check-in, I was one of the last to board the plane. I wasn’t concerned because I was sure Morgan and Garmit would have saved a seat for me. But I didn’t see them waving at me. I squinted and looked carefully but couldn’t see them anywhere so I sat by myself.
I learned later that they were actually ducking down behind the seats because they didn’t want anybody to know they had anything to do with me. They definitely didn’t want me sitting in the same row next to them.
They also didn’t wait for me when exiting the plane after we landed.
It wasn’t until this event was being related to Jeff and Susan by Morgan and Garmit that I realized the implication of the word “vibrator.”
To this day none of them will stand next to me when boarding a plane even if I tell them that I don’t have a vibrator with me. When planning a trip to Montana last summer, years after this incident had happened, Morgan asked me what seat I had reserved and instead of him reserving seats near me as I expected, I found they were seated at a distance.
I don’t think I can expect that they will take me on interesting trips when I’m older and have physical impairments. They’ll never trust my mind and mouth.
© 2022 Violet Suta Moran
Violet grew up on a farm in Montana just 8 miles from the Canadian border and about 70 miles east of Glacier Park. After getting a degree in nursing at Montana State University in Bozeman, she literally picked Madison, Wisconsin off the map as the first place she was going “on my trip around the world.” Delayed by marriage, 3 children and administrative positions in facilities including University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, trips to many different countries came later. For the last 20 years before retiring, Violet ran her own nurse consulting business. In retirement she enjoys travel, dance, and blues, often in combination.