Shortcuts Ampersand Delusions: Fun With the TSA
If a TSA agent is going to just check my waistband for whatever it is he decided he has to search me for, then I demand that he be at least slightly handsome and have breath that smells like something other than asparagus. The TSA agent’s face was decorated with wrinkles that represented each bad decision that led to his career with the TSA, and he unromantically refused to make eye contact with me while he examined me.
“Raul,” if his nametag is to be believed, was searching the front of my waistband for contraband of some kind since, as he pointed out to me on the X-ray scanner’s monitor, my belt’s metal buckle triggered the agent’s interest. The funny thing is, before I entered the scanner, I commented to the agent stationed at the scanner’s entrance, “Oh, I forgot to take my belt off.” This agent told me to keep it on and go through the scanner, so I thought to myself, “No shit, Sherlock,” when the agent on the other side stopped me because I had metal on my person, body or being, not to get too metaphysical.
Now, I don’t want to tell people how to do their job, but I’d appreciate it if they didn’t drag the tops of their hands and their knuckles across my wife’s upper thighs and vagina.
Let me back up: I don’t know what it is, but for some reason my wife, Alice, invites intense scrutiny whenever we go through airport security. I’ve told her a million times to shave her beard and to stop yelling “ALLAH AKBAR!” but she don’t listen!
As you can tell by the photo below, my wife is an obvious threat to national security.
Anywhat, all seriousness aside, Alice was flagged for the same reason I was: belt buckle, and not even a Texas-sized one, so over came a TSA agent who made her bones inside a UFC cage. I put my shoes back on real fast and grabbed our stuff before it launched off the end of the conveyor belt, only to look back to watch Alice endure a pregnancy scare from a woman taller than myself, with epaulets on her shoulders, dragging her knuckles like some inmate at the Bronx Zoo across Alice’s babymaker.
“No, you have to go in a circular motion, or you won’t get anywhere,” I advised Alice’s TSA agent. “Plus, I don’t normally use blue latex gloves. Your technique needs a lot of work. You didn’t get her a glass of wine, or light any candles, or anything.”
“Why not just have everyone take their pants off as they go through security?” I asked after we had passed through security.
“How do they know I don’t have something stuffed up there?” Alice asked, referring to her, you know, her wah-wah, you know…her nooner, you know…her hooha, you know…
Indeed. If drugs can be smuggled into prison by balloons swallowed and later pooped out by convicts, than certainly C4 can be brought on board a plane inside a woman’s vajayjay. Just a little dab’ll do ya.
Where did the idea come from that it makes more sense for a woman to full body cavity search another woman, or for a man to give another man the ol’ Hungarian How Do You Do? Grope is grope, and rape is rape, right? Have I missed something? If you’re asserting your power over another subject, it doesn’t matter if you share a race, sex, religion or creed, and using the top of your hands rather than your fingertips, and employing blue latex gloves over clothes does not mean you aren’t embarrassing or offending someone. In fact, it makes more sense for a woman to search a man, and vice versa, if we’re concerned about limiting the (potentially) violent natures of security searches. Most men and most women curtail their own invasiveness since they have a natural tendency towards shame and decency.
I understand that the Founding Fathers weren’t prescient enough to include in the Bill of Rights that you don’t give up your right to privacy and unlawful searches and seizures when you choose to participate in air travel or some other form of mass transit. It wasn’t on their minds since passengers did not have to submit to getting fingered before boarding a stagecoach (outside of Delaware, at least). How could they have possibly predicted man’s capability for flight, or how that almost magical mode of transportation could be perverted into weapons of mass destruction on 9/11, or that the solution to prevent future terror attacks would be to treat everyone as potential threats and criminals who shall forevermore be subjected to state-sponsored gropings?
The groping I wrote of above took place in the Orlando International airport. We’ve flown several times from Newark Liberty International airport to Orlando, and each time going through security in Newark is relatively quick and painless, whereas security in Orlando is slow and invasive. This is ironic considering Newark has much higher volume of passengers than Orlando; you’d think more people would equal a longer wait time. But, it isn’t just because the Newark TSA is more efficient that the security wait time is much shorter. It’s because there is a disparity in procedures between the two airports, for example, the belt issue. In Newark you take your belt off, but in Orlando apparently they want you to wear it through the X-ray scanner so they have a reason to search you after it trips the machine. Since the TSA and FAA fall under federal jurisdictions, the security protocols for airports should be uniform.
TSA agents may be despicable, but they’re not stupid; they know how to come up with reasons to grope you, and you just have to accept it. Do you want to magically fly through the air to your destination instead of take a few days to drive there? Well, then get ready to be fingered because the Constitution doesn’t apply when you’re in an airport.
And that’s the way it is, as far as you know.
Photo: Boston Globe