A small house a few days before Christmas. Protagonist, a young man in his twenties, is seen packing for a trip. He picks up a laptop, and, after thoughtfully considering it for a few seconds, purposefully removes the battery and leaves it behind as he packs the laptop into a backpack.
The Hilo airport, later that day. Protagonist is seen passing through the security checkpoint without incident, other than forgetting to empty his water bottle and needing to go through security a second time.
The San Francisco airport, New Year's Eve. Protagonist is seen passing through security entirely without incident this time.
The Honolulu airport, later the same day. Due to an oversight and changing airlines, protagonist is seen picking up his luggage from the baggage claim and re-entering the security line.
This time, the battery-less laptop seems to be causing some perplexity among security staff, several of whom are clustered around the X-ray machine. Protagonist goes through the metal detector, then stands waiting for his effects to come down the conveyor belt. Several long awkward minutes follow, as other prospective passengers begin to line up after him, likewise waiting for the arrested progress of their assorted impedimenta to resume.
After a few minutes one of the agents clustered around the monitor comes over and brusquely asks the protagonist if he often makes a habit of going around removing batteries from laptops. The protagonist's patient explanation that the battery had been dead for years and its removal was purely a matter of carrying less weight on his back does not seem to comfort the gathered agents—now numbering at least five—who after poking, prodding, and opening the lid of the laptop decide to send it back through the X-ray machine for a second run. (Protagonist is seen, meanwhile, surreptitiously inspecting the X-ray image of his laptop visible on a monitor with great interest.)
Finally, after another round through the X-ray machine, the laptop seems to have allayed the agents' suspicions, and is returned to the protagonist by an agent who curtly informs him that he can continue, which he somehow manages to do without betraying a hint of amusement.