“My Beanie!”

Travel drama in Tucson

I’ll be writing about water issues in Tucson shortly, but this adventure deserves its own post. Previous evidence that we’re travel drama magnets can be found here and here.

We arrived at Tucson airport in plenty of time for our flight home and returned the rental car without issue. We checked our bags and headed to security. The line was moving a little slowly for the number of people. Only one scanner was in use, a new computed tomography scanner, better known as a CT or CAT scanner, that builds a 3D image from x-ray slices, and coming soon to an airport near you. The advantage is that laptops and other electronics can stay in their bags. The disadvantage is that right now it’s slow.

I put my backpack, jacket, and shoes in a tray and headed through without incident. Brenda followed, picked up her backpack, jacket, shoes, and purse, then turned back the tray, exclaiming “my beanie!”

Her gray beanie, a Christmas gift from her daughter, was missing.

The beanie. 📷 John Lovie

Brenda explained to the nearest TSA agent that she had put it on top of her purse and that it must have slipped off. The agent searched on and under the rollers and the belt to no avail. She wasn’t giving up. “It must have fallen off in the machine.”

“We can’t check inside the machine without a supervisor” came the reply.

Brenda didn’t move. Agents buzzed past her asking, “did they find that beanie yet?” She persisted. Eventually, a supervisor was summoned. He instructed the machine operator to look inside. Nothing. After a further few minutes he went through the stack of trays. Nothing. Looked in the machine again. Nothing. He called out to another agent who was checking a bag. “Go through the video recording and see if you can see it.”

“How long ago was it?” the agent asked.

“About five or six minutes” the supervisor replied. I had it at more like twenty but didn’t say. I figured the agent would work backwards through the tape until he found us. He looked at us, our bags, the screen, us, our bags, the screen. Another agent joined in, looking over his shoulder. After another ten minutes of looking, clicking, dragging, and scrolling they still weren’t finding us. It was getting close to five o’clock. I figured we’d been there a solid half hour. Brenda was close to giving up.

Finally, the agent asked us when we went through security. I told him around four thirty. He turned back to the screen and scrolled some more. “There you are at four thirty!” he said. “There it is going in. And coming out. He took it! The guy behind you took it! It’s in his bag!”

“He stole my beanie? Who steals a beanie?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll find him.” The agent looked intently at the screen, clicking and dragging the mouse, for maybe a minute. “There he is!”

AI? Facial recognition? Magic? Don’t know and didn’t ask. “OK, follow me!”

My heart was beating faster as we followed. As we neared the gate where the beanie bandit was sitting, the agent asked us to wait. We watched him walk up to the beanie booster and ask him to empty his bag. First, he pulled out a jacket, then digging deeper, the beanie! We could observe some apologetic gesturing as he handed the stolen goods over to the agent. The agent walked back to us, beaming, and returned the beanie to Brenda. The beanie brigand had said that it was an accident. None of us bought that story, but we were satisfied.

TSA agent Marco Robles walked us to our gate. The beanie bust was clearly the highlight of his day, as well as Brenda’s, because she got her beanie back, and mine, because I have a story for this week’s post. Agent Robles indicated that if we felt moved to mention him in some feedback, it would be appreciated. We were only too happy to oblige. Here’s what I wrote to TSA:

Categories Professionalism/Customer Service

Please provide a description of your comment. We’d like to compliment TSA Agent Marco Robles of Tucson Airport for going above and beyond the call of duty in identifying the thief of my wife’s beanie from the scanner belt, tracking him down, confronting him, and recovering the item.

The moral of the story is that if you’re going to accidentally steal something, even a two-for-three-dollars beanie from Hot Topic, don’t do it in an airport security line, especially not if agent Marco Robles is on duty!

Thanks as always for listening or reading. Do you have a travel drama story? Please share in comments!

Mostly Water will be back next week with a post that’s mostly about water in Tucson. The best way to make sure you don’t miss it, or the next inevitable travel drama story, is to become a free or paid subscriber.