The TSA and Manly Footwear

Besides providing good people-watching opps, last Saturday’s travel provided the rare chance to visit with some of the good folk who serve as baggage screeners.

Most of my prior encounters have been of the “let’s get this over with as quickly as possible, shall we?” type. But when we returned to Love Field on Saturday afternoon to catch our flight back to Midland, we were greeted with an odd sight: a completely empty check-in maze. In fact, there were two screening stations in operation, one on each end of the security area, and the crews seemed to be competing for passenger attention.

My brother, his wife and I headed for the team who waved most enthusiastically and we went through the drill of removing shoes, jackets, cell phones, and other accoutrements in preparation for walking through the metal detector. We each cleared the detector without incident and waited for our shoes to clear the x-ray machine.

Mine came through first and I slipped them on, and waited while my sister-in-law’s cleared and she put hers on. My brother’s footwear seemed to be attracting a bit more attention from the x-ray operator, however. He looked up, saw us watching him, and remarked that my brother’s boots were very nice.

He explained further. “We can tell a lot about how good your boots are by the number of nails in the soles. A lot of boots look like they’re barely held together by just a few nails; they’re probably made in China or something.” We laughed. “Yours are really good boots…they have a lot of nails.”

His boots were, in fact, quite striking, although not necessarily terribly expensive. The ladies on the screening detail admired the handiwork of the red leather uppers. “They’re just Tony Lamas,” he said modestly, as he pulled the almost knee-high cowboy boots on, “and they’re not too easy to get on and off.”

The x-ray screener went on, “I don’t say anything to those folks with the cheap boots, but I couldn’t help noticing the difference in yours.”

We thanked them all and wished them a good day and proceeded down to the gate, where only then did I realize that I’d just been the subject of a classic dissing, given that my humble pair of $40 no-brand black ropers had gone through the screening while eliciting nary a comment.

It’s bad enough that I have to make sure I’m wearing presentable socks when I fly. Now I have to worry about whether my boots are passing the quality standards of the TSA.


  1. And they said you’re from down South,
    and when you open your mouth,
    you always seem to put your foot there….
    I never understood why ol’ Tony didn’t spell his last name with two Ls.

  2. I never understood why ol’ Tony didn’t spell his last name with two Ls.
    Because he knew that eventually, more than half the population of Texas would call him “Tony Yama.”
    I’m glad to see that you correctly identified my musical reference.
    “Wanna go home with the armadillo…”

  3. Rachel, I have no idea what nail count is required to meet the TSA’s high standards. 😉
    Gwynne, it’s not really your fault that you’re not from Texas. If you were from, say, Luckenbach, you’d see the reference immediately.

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