A TSA worker making an innocent mistake reminds us that we should never make assumptions about people based on appearances.
Especially when it comes to gender.
A TSA employee accidentally patted down a woman after thinking the traveler was a teenage boy.
Lucky for him, the mortifying interaction wound up being a premise that is prime for a rom-com.
He wrote about his zany account on the "Today, I F****d Up" subreddit. where the community share experiences of doing "something ridiculously stupid."
The TSA employee prefaced his story by explaining the incident happened over a year ago.
"Obligatory this actually happened a little over a year ago, and throwaway because I don't want people on my main account to know what I do for a living."
"So, I work for the TSA, and have for a few years now. It's a good job overall. I'm underpaid, but the benefits are nice, and I get overtime when I want it."
"A little over a year ago, during the week leading up to Christmas, we had some really bad weather that delayed all the flights. I volunteered to stay late so that my coworkers could go home to their families."
"Most of the work was done anyway, so it was mostly just standing around waiting for the odd latecomer."
The misshap occurred while the security agent was screening a group of passengers he assumed was the teenage boy's family.
"I was working the AIT (the space tube thingy), when three passengers came up together, a middle-aged man, a middle-aged woman, and a teenage boy."
"I figure it's a family traveling together for the holidays, and go about my work."
"Mom goes through, all is fine. Dad goes through, all is fine."
"Kid comes up, I get a good look at him. Hoodie, sweatpants, shortish hair, smooth face. I figure he's about 13, maybe 14."
"I hit the button, direct him to wait with me for a moment, and then gesture to the screen, which lit up on his chest area."
"I tell him that I have to pat that area down. He's a little nervous, I figure that because he's so young, this is probably his first time getting a pat down, but he says okay, and I start the patdown."
"I do the left side of the chest, and feel some boob, which catches me off guard because he didn't look chubby at all."
"I move to the right side of the chest, read what's on the hoodie, and it all clicks at once. The hoodie has the name of the local college on it. This is an adult, not a child."
"He's not wearing sweatpants, *she* is wearing yoga pants. She doesn't even know the couple that just came through."
"I look at her face, which is bright red, my hand is still on her boob, and I pull it back like I just got bit by a snake."
"I immediately call for my supervisor, who comes over and asks what's wrong, and I explain the situation to her."
"My supervisor covers her mouth, and at first I thought she was absolutely mortified, but then I realized she's trying not to laugh."
"She takes a minute to pull herself together, tells me to go take a break, and finishes screening the passenger herself."
"Once that was done, I apologize to the passenger, she tells me it's fine, that it wasn't the first time she was mistaken for a boy, and she probably should have said something before I started touching her."
"I leave her alone, and go talk to my supervisor to figure out exactly how fired I am."
Even though the passenger assured everything was fine, the supervisor had to talk the distressed agent off the proverbial ledge.
"She tells me to calm down, that it was just an honest mistake, and that she has my back if the passenger files an official complaint, but that probably won't happen, and I shouldn't be worried."
"That reassured me a little, but I still groped a woman and ruined Christmas, so I feel like an absolute monster."
That was not the last he saw of her.
"I swallow my shame, and finish my shift, then I go into the airport proper to find some food, because I just finished a twelve hour shift and there's no way I have the energy to cook dinner."
"I saw my hapless victim sitting at her gate, waiting for her flight. I went up to her to apologize again, and saw that the flight had been delayed until morning (it was about eleven at night)."
"I apologize again, she says it's fine, and I ask her if she's planning to stay the whole night. She says she has to, all the hotels in the area are book."
"I tell her that I'm getting some dinner, and offer to get her some food as well. After all, I already got to second base, I think it's only fair that I buy her dinner."
"She agrees, and we go to one of the restaurants that is open late, get some food, and start eating."
"She said she gets mistaken for a boy a lot, and it's not a big deal. I told her about how I had long hair and no beard in college, and at the gym people would frequently walk into the men's bathroom, see me, and do a double take to make sure they didn't walk into the ladies' room."
"She laughed, and we ended up talking for a few hours, before I finally told her that I had to get home, and apologized again for the accidental molestation."
And then, there was a plot twist.
"She said that all is forgiven, if I promise to take her on a real date when she gets back."
"I agreed, she gave me her phone number, and I went home, and immediately started texting her. We kept talking until her flight finally left, and when she got back I picked her up at the airport, and a few days later took her on that date that I promised her."
It all started with a pat down.
"We just celebrated our one year anniversary."
"She has long hair now."
TSA protocol dictates that an agent cannot pat down a member of the opposite sex, and the distinction between yoga pants or sweatpants on a traveler should never be a determining factor on how to proceed.
Also, according to the TSA website, pat downs on transgender and gender nonconforming travelers are "conducted by an officer of the same gender as you present yourself."
Fortunately, this employee's brush with potential disaster had a happy ending.
Redditors provided titles for this wacky story.
"I'm dating someone I thought was a young boy when we met." – takatori
"I'm boying someone I thought was a young date when we met." – justinkroegerlake
"You leave Mulan alone! I love that cartoon." – call_of_the_while
One commenter felt slighted.
"I've been inappropriately touched on my butt by, like, three different TSA guys on three separate trips through Denver, and not once has any of them offered to buy me dinner."
"Gotta be honest, I feel a little left out." – BrokenPaw
When you want something from your handsy stranger, just flash a smile.
"If they ever do make eye contact the appropriate thing to say is 'That's right.' And then give a smug grin." – XeroAnarian
What is it about Denver?
"What is up with Denver airport? Last time I was there 3 of my friends and I were all pulled aside for "random" groin searches" – cake_pan_rs
"I mean, first rule of Denver: men = cargo shorts, women = yoga pants. I'm sorry, I don't make the rules." – maidrey
Just in case guys were planning on a grabbing spree in the hopes of scoring a date – don't.
"Just for the record people: Do not try this to pick up women!" – cornm
An incredulous user still found the anecdote amusing.
"Ok even if this isn't true I love it." – anomanissh