Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Intimate Moment With the TSA

The standard blue latex exam gloves do make an appearance.
There is just nothing like a 6:45 am Transportation Security Administration (TSA) pat down to get your adrenaline going. Now that experience will wake you up, and it's much more stimulating than a cup of coffee!

Actually I have my son Jack to thank for my Friday morning TSA experience at the Minneapolis International Airport. He was the one who set off the random metal detector alarm. I haven't seen Jack so wide-eyed in a long time. We were both very relieved when the TSA agent said I could take his place for a pat down. My lucky day.

Here are a few things I learned from my TSA pat down that may help if you ever have a future TSA exploit:

  1. Time Really Doesn't Matter All That Much to a TSA Agent. They have all day and seem to enjoy taking their time. Obviously checking your watch, sighing loudly, urging the agent on, anxiously looking past security for your family. None of that helps.
  2. Send Everyone Else in Your Party On Ahead to Fetch Coffee. No sense everyone hanging around watching you get groped by a complete stranger in full public view. You'll appreciate that coffee afterwards.
  3. Don't Offer the TSA Your Shoes. If you happen to set off a random "Russian Roulette" alarm, the TSA will offer to run a test on one of your items. Offer a glove or your cell phone instead. They took my clogs. Of course they didn't pass the "scan" because I'd been walking all over the airport and the filthy parking lot. Failing the clog test set me up for the dreaded TSA pat down.
  4. Have a Sense of Humor, If You Can. Don't be upset that you're having a stranger touch you in intimate places in full view of all of the other travelers waiting in line at security. They will all be looking at you with this shocked and appalled look on their faces. Just smile and wave. They will instantly look away, secretly happy it's not them getting groped in public.
  5. Keep Any Snide Comments to Yourself. Goes without saying unless you want to end up detained in a little room instead of on your flight.
  6. Relax and Enjoy the Ride. There's really not much you can do about it except get yourself in deeper trouble by creating a scene. Let's just say that pat downs have changed a bit since my last pat down in 1988. At least they wear gloves in 2012!
I'd say the most annoying part of my TSA experience was the TSA agent's leisurely pace. She slowly snapped on those latex exam gloves, chatted to her TSA agent co-worker, and certainly took her time throughout the entire ordeal. I'm just relieved that the TSA decided to subject me to the humiliation of a public pat down instead of my young son. The TSA agent did proudly announce that they do routinely pat down kids. Nice. 

This irksome episode does make me wonder if we are really spending our scarce security funding wisely by patting down middle-aged Moms who clearly do not have an agenda to take down a 747. Maybe a better use of federal time and money would be tracking down REAL terrorists. I think I've proven that I'm not a threat to our national security; neither is 9-year old Jack. 

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