Sunday, May 11, 2008


I've been trying to shake a feeling of 'ICK' all day.

Yesterday I got up just after4 with the idea of writing my blog before heading to the airport to fly out west for my lecture tour of Washington and British Columbia. But, though I was up at 4 all I managed to to was sit on the side of the bed and stare vacantly out into space. Joe was 'chipper' and kept saying, 'Are you going to write your blog?' or 'Have you written your blog yet?' After 5 or 10 minutes of this he simply gave up and left me sitting on the side of the bed.

By the time we got to the airport I was beginning to feel the joy of travel again and we chatted with the Air Canada personnel at the desk and then got a push down to the security check. I was asked, as I always am, if I could walk through the scanner. I say, 'no' and then push around the side for the manual pat down.

I hate the pat down.

It is totally weird having some guy I don't know run his hands all over my body. Even though the hand is in a glove, even though they use the back of the hand (mostly) I still don't like the experience. But most of the guys that do it, do it well, there is an air of efficiency and it gets done quickly and though I've been touched I don't feel touched, if that makes any sense at all.

Well, it was different yesterday morning.

The guy put on the glove, making a show of himself doing it. I only noticed him because it seemed that he really wanted me to notice him. Then he patted me down. From the moment his hands touched me I knew that this was different from any other time I've had this experience. I wanted to tell him to stop, I wanted to ask for someone else, but I couldn't. I didn't know what he was doing differently. I couldn't see what he was doing differently. I just knew it was very, very different. I was being touched. Icky touched.

I glanced around me and everyone was doing what they should be doing. No one was noticing. I begin and inner dialogue. "I am just tired from the early morning, I am just on edge from a slightly low blood sugar reading, I am just ..." But none of that helped me. I was being touched, dammit, all over my body.

Then, suddenly, it was over. I got my stuff from the belt and the pusher was there to help me to the gate.

I said nothing.

I didn't know what to say.

I still don't know how to describe how his touch was different from every single other time I've been patted down.

And because of that, I wonder.

Will I be believed?


FridaWrites said...

I believe you. I understand. And I'm sorry you have to go through the pat down every time you travel. That's stressful.

Anonymous said...

Ick is right, it would be great if any time you felt a touch wasn't "right" you didn't have to explain or justify it. Just your discomfort would be enough. Try not to second guess yourself. If it happens again, protest at the beginning and ask for someone else to do the pat down. I hope I would although I understand why you didn't


Liz Miller said...

I'm so sorry that that happened. And it IS hard to describe how a touch becomes wrong. But that it was wrong is something that I can very easily believe.

lina said...

I believe you.

Terri said...

Oh yeah, I believe you. When people turn things that are "normal" into ways to exert power it is often subtle, and nearly invisible to observers and often difficult to quantify for the person experiencing it.


Kei said...

I believe you.

Tammy said...

I believe you and I'm sorry that happened to you. That instinct that something is wrong, that the touch was "icky", is exactly right. I very much understand why you didn't say anything either.

Wheelchair Dancer said...

I believe you. And I hope if you say anything to the complaint site that they will too.

Don't second guess yourself.


Anonymous said...

Dave, I read your message with great interest - I debated whether to shut up or say something - anyway here goes - what great proof that no matter how often we say it, how well they blow the whistle, yell stop and go tell someone, until the power pendulum shifts it just is not going to work with persons in the position of power and authority - even Dave Hingsburger felt like there was nothing he could do - maybe, just maybe you with all your knowledge will be able to take this experience and finally come up with an abuse prevention program that works - anyway yet again - you are not alone there are millions of vulnerable people who have been in your shoes

theknapper said...

This reminds me of a Ethics of Touch wksp I went to many yrs ago with Suzanne Kyra. She talked about the importance of boundried touch. We were in pairs and went thru a series of exercises.....where we touched our partner's hand in a very concious contained way/ another where we touched in an un boundried way where our energy merged with the was amazing the differences between the two.
It was clear how we need to be aware of our intent when we touched another. She said an ambivilant touch is a wounding touch.....even if the other person is unaware.