So today for Whack-A-Doodle Wednesday, I am going to talk about TSA. Isn’t that fun? As you may have read from my previous blogs, I was trapped back East after Christmas in the great airplane debacle of ’10. I finally got out of Virginia on New Years Day. New Years Eve was spent with no booze, no parties and no Alan Rickman. JetBlue couldn’t get me out until after January 5th so Southwest came to my rescue. Actually I have a new slogan for them! “Southwest – The Flying Greyhound Always Gets You Where You Need To Go.” It may not be in luxury. There may not be DirectTV or TerraBlue Chips or more leg room or even assigned seats but they will get you there. You know why? Here is my theory. Ready? Because they are owned by their employees, that’s why! They don’t have the greedy “Mr. Me Gimme Mine” attitude the other big airlines have. My plane didn’t fly because one flight attendant was timed out and since they laid off a bunch of staff, they didn’t have anyone to replace her. But the airline DID make record profit in this shitty economy for their shareholders and bonuses for their top Execs so what do they care?
My plane was scheduled to leave at 8:20 in the morning so we left the house at 6:30. I even slept in my clothes to save myself time. I got to the airport, checked my bag and headed to security without incident. Even at 7:15 in the morning, the airport was very light as far as holiday traffic. It surprised me since there were still people trying to leave after the snow storms in New York and Jersey. Perhaps these souls opted for a late night drunken orgy, instead of an early flight and were sleeping it off.
I have flown four times since the Rapiscan machines have been operational and have never been asked to walk through them. Why don’t I like them?
First, was there ever a more unfortunate name? Just saying.
Second, no hard evidence has been shown that proves these machines are safe. Sure they SAY they are safe. They SAY you get “more radiation from the Sun”. These are also the same people who touted the health benefits of cigarettes, the safety of asbestos, lead paint and all the various drugs that are peddled on TV and then pulled when too many people drop dead, grow two heads or start speaking in tongues.
Third, do I REALLY want someone looking at my bits when I don’t get paid? Umm, no. There is technology that can show just your bones ala “Total Recall” or show a stick figure and still show a square of C4 stuffed down your pants. The inventor of the “little stick man” technology contacted TSA. They haven’t responded.
Fourth, the whole thing is just frosting on a cake that was already eaten by wolves. Meaning? We are real good about responding to things after the fact but not too good at being proactive. Some nut job tries to set off an explosive charge in his shoes and sets them on fire? Solution – make everyone take off their shoes. Guess what? Humans are smart monkeys. They will keep coming up with stupid ways to kill each other that we haven’t thought of. Nothing is 100% safe. The sooner people understand this the better.
Who am I kidding? The people who think that taking our shoes off actually makes us safer also think it’s great when their kid Billy is the 42nd “winner” in Baseball. Yeah, you GO BILLY!! Everyone is a winner!
Anyway, I think it’s stupid and I have to draw the line somewhere. The government treating me like a criminal and peeping at my “cash and prizes” is the line. So I decide if I’m ever asked, I will “opt-out”. After hearing all these groping horror stories I even take to wearing no underwear when I fly. Hey, it’s my only act of rebellion I can currently think of. I’ve never been asked to use the scanner. Today, they are sending everyone through the scanner except for kids under 12. I put my things on the belt and when the TSA guy motions me over I say “I’m sorry. I opt-out.” This is what happened.
The TSA guy calls for a female to do a pat down. There is a female TSA agent on the other side of the metal detector. She calls for a female to do a pat down. No one shows up. Hmmmm, is she not a female? You know, sometimes you can never tell but she looks like a girl to me. I wait patiently and don’t say a word. Finally after 3 minutes (in the near deserted security area) she decided to do it. She leans over the barrier and asks the guy “Did you tell her what was going to happen or should I?”
“WHAT?!” Now I’m thinking this is going to be like prison. Great. I have a lot of smart phrases floating around in my head like “Oh, I’ve been to that frat party!” or “You mean like the last time I was in prison?” or “Just as long as you warm up your hands and buy me dinner, we’re cool.” I say nothing. Saying nothing is better.
So they lead me though the gate by the side of the metal detector. She takes me to the belt and asks me to point out my things. I point to the two bins, the PC bag and the carry on bag. She grabs some and a male TSA agent grabs the others and puts them on some chairs. I stand on the standard mat that they use to pat you down when you set off the metal detector and…
not much of anything. I got the same pat down I would normally get if I set off the metal detector. Down the legs, up the legs, the back of her hand over my ass, around the waist of my jeans, down my arms and to the sides, top, bottom and between my breasts. I’ve been groped more working the Renaissance Faire. No nipple touching. No cooter grabbing. I felt a little left out. It wasn’t objectionable at all. Did certain agents step out of line in the past with other passengers. Yes. We have the tapes. But there are assholes everywhere. My experience was fine. Will I continue to opt-out until they get rid of Rapiscan? Yes. My reasons still haven’t gone away but if you are polite, patient and sane, I would wager you “woog them out” less and they are less likely to treat you like an inmate.
Just so you know, you are also entitled to have the pat down in private if you choose and to have someone of your choice present.
So what was the most traumatizing thing I had to deal with on my way home? It was the HUGE guy in a wrestling singlet on the plane with me to Chicago (where we touched down and took on more people). Thankfully he was wearing pants but carrying his jacket. I don’t know what freaked me out worse. The spandex fashion nightmare or the fact that without the jacket his hairy pits were exposed to the world. I started thinking about the poor bastard you would have to sit next to him. Did he wear deodorant? Does he sweat excessively? When he is seated would his pits be in someone’s face? I was at the end of the B group (also known as the “pick your favorite middle seat” group). I just hoped it wouldn’t be me.