Friday, December 3, 2010
My Day With The TSA
I spent Thanksgiving this year visiting my youngest son and his family in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Although the flight out of Florida was uneventful (SWR Airport has no scanners yet), the return trip through El Paso, Texas was a different story.
Believe me…I had prepared. I was devoid of jewelry, watches, belt buckles, and hair clips. I was dressed only in a shirt, non-underwire bra, underpants, and Danskin pants. I was metal purged….or so I thought.
As I weaved through the black roped security maze with my fellow SHEEPLE, a blue uniformed TSA man kept informing us in a loud voice to EMPTY OUR POCKETS….REMOVE ALL RINGS….TAKE OFF BELTS…..
I finally reached another rather large TSA agent who took my boarding pass and driver’s licence. He spent a little under a minute looking at my picture and then looking at me. (Yes..the picture is 7 years old..so what?) He passed over it with a mysterious blue light and told me to have a nice day.
I walked forward and there it was………THE SCANNER!
Ok….I know I said I was GOING TO OPT OUT BY GOD! I was going to DEMAND THE GROPE IN FULL PUBLIC VIEW FOR ALL TO SEE!
But…I REALLY did not want the ENHANCED treatment…..and the scanner looked fast and easy….and everyone else was just ASSUMING THE POSITION and moving through……BAA! BAA! BAA!..I had become a SHEEPLE…..Just hand me the CONE OF SHAME now…I deserve it.
I piled everything into the trays, removed my shoes and waited my turn. I justified my decision by running scenarios in my head about smart ass things I could say or do while standing in the scanner.
I could ask for two 5 x 7’s and a sheet of wallet size……I could start talking to my imaginary friend and demand to know why she was not special enough for scanning?.....I could become a mime and wait for the TSA agent to unlock the invisible door to the scanner….I could do the RAIN MAN thing and start to mutter “You’re an excellent screener, definitely” I could start talking loudly about the Constitution and the 4th Amendment.
I was motioned out…I walked in my socks to the end of a rubber mat right into another TSA agent blocking my path. He said WAIT RIGHT HERE….. ok
He pointed to the conveyor ..TELL ME WHEN YOUR BELONGINGS APPEAR…ok
I indicated that they had come down and turned to get them and was then told NO…THERE IS A PROBLEM…..ok
Wait a minute…I was metal cleansed….I had nothing in my EUPHEMISTIC groin area. She said THERE ARE TWO UNUSUAL INDICATIONS….uh?
I started feeling MY GROIN AREA and then….yes…my concealed weapon of mass destruction was discovered….look very closely….zoom the picture if you need to….see…those two tiny little metal tips on the end of the string ties on the waist of my pants?
There they were…DAMN DANSKIN…oh the betrayal!
Ms. TSA agent said I F YOU HAVE NO OBJECTION I WILL TAKE YOU TO THE PRIVATE ROOM WHERE I WILL EXAMINE YOUR BODY….objection? uh? yes I have an objection…you can see them..they are little tips on the ties..
I REALIZE THAT MAMM BUT THIS IS THE RULE…..ok
I followed her to the frosted paneled room to the right of the scanner. Another blond TSA woman was waiting for us. This was THE WITNESS.
My agent explained I WILL BEGIN WITH YOUR HAIR AND PROCEED DOWNWARD…TRACING THE OUTLINE OF YOUR BODY…I WILL FEEL INSIDE YOUR WAISTBAND AND BETWEEN YOUR BREASTS ….I WILL PROCEED UP YOU INNER THIGH…AND DOWN THE OTHER SIDE…
…ok (teeth are now very clenched)
And then I really looked at these two ladies…they looked as disgusted as I did. I ventured a comment …I said, “ I bet this is not what you signed up to do is it?”
Blond TSA said, ABSOLUTELY NOT. IT HAS BEEN TERRIBLE.
Short TSA said, as she was outlining my breasts, YOU CAN’T IMAGINE HOW IT HAS BEEN. PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SO ANGRY AND ABUSIVE. SOME HAVE CRIED. I ALWAYS APOLOGIZE AND TRY TO MAKE THIS AS FAST AND PAINLESS AS I CAN BUT IT IS NOT GOOD.
I ended up telling them both that I was sorry too that we had all come to this. I told them that it was hard being the messengers…administration needed to spend some time in their shoes. They both laughed. Short TSA asked WAS IT TOO AWFUL? I just said I was ok.
They both led me out to MR. TSA agent …I told them to try and have a good day…blond TSA just rolled her eyes and smiled….there are no good days at the airport anymore.
MR TSA then took my boarding pass and driver’s license to further check me out on THE MAIN FRAME or something and told me to SIT HERE…..ok.
About 5 minutes later he returned, apologized for any INCONVENIENCE and said I could go. I looked into his eyes…he really did look sorry…as he turned to leave his shoulders slumped a little.
I put on my shoes….stuffed my plastic bag in my suitcase…and with my CONE OF SHAME still firmly around my neck I walked to my gate.
In the end I am grateful for this experience. It has caused me to question. I wonder how far I can be pushed? Evidently I can be pushed into a scanner, and pushed into a room to receive a very enhanced PAT DOWN, and pushed into a chair to wait in my socks for my PAPERS.
I was intimidated in the airport. Not by guns, or torture, or even YELLING. I learned that I am a great talker but not a very great walker.
I have a new, profound respect for those people who have stood up to tyranny under far more terrible threats to livelihood and life. I am in awe of all those who have been willing to give up everything, even their lives, for their freedom. I got a glimmer of what that commitment requires... and it is not for the faint of heart.
I turned, saw myself with new eyes…..and found I was wanting.