Beyond the Cusp

June 28, 2012

A Morning With the TSA

Found myself in the position of having absolutely no other option than to fly to my destination. Normally I will go to almost any extreme to avoid airports with the new security regulations and the accompanying myriad of other inconveniences. Unfortunately, this trip’s itinerary was planned by somebody else leaving me little choice. My preparations for my encounter with some of the elite federal security personnel who stand to safeguard our skies from any miscreant or other causers of mayhem began with my selection of T-shirt. I optioned into a midrange blue T-shirt with well worn sports logo over wearing my T-shirts with Hebrew lettering or any of my ones with a logo and the words, “Guns & Moses” emblazoned across the front. I suspected such a logo would have immediately caused me hours upon hours trying to explain that the logo was a joke play on words of the band Guns & Roses and was not some political expression or other threat of any kind. I did make the error of wearing my tennis shoes and later realized that, no matter the appearance, I really should have simply left on my slippers. Well, next time I’ll know.

 

Then came the drive across town to the airport at some inhumanly early hour and still there was traffic. I thought I lived in a sleepy little town and apparently it has had some growing pains, one being the roads have not kept up with the traffic. I know, tell you about it as this is the case almost everywhere. I often am amused at how nearly every city never seems able to build with future requirements in mind. It would cost less to do it big at the get go and would prevent that urban horror of closed lanes during rush hours. Enough about that as it could make an entire article on its own. Arriving at the airport we used the airport parking facility, there are only two from which to choose and one is open air and not patrolled or equipped with security of any sort, and the other where the service is advertised to be so fast that they claim to be loading your luggage before you finish closing your doors. After we lugged our luggage to the waiting area, we stood around for a little while until the shuttle arrived. Then check-in and on to “the line”, and I do mean the line, a line that appeared deceptively short giving off the impression of being six lines when in reality there were but two lines made up of three sections and a long interconnect linking them together.

 

I have had experience with these sort of lines before when I took my daughter to Disney World out in California. I have to give them credit for utilizing the Disney method of snaking the line back and forth and around and back around and some more snaking making an excessively long line appear to be rather short. Each time you approach what you believe is the front of the line to enter the inspection area you instead find the line circles around back to another snaking line similar to the one just navigated. With about five minutes till take-off we finally hit the inspection area where there were approximately six stations with each having two stages, one for the little trays that hold your shoes, wallet, keys, carry-on baggage, lap-top computer, and other sundry items and, most importantly, your belt. Then you shuffle along grabbing your jeans holding them up as your belt is being X-rayed for who knows what and they place you in the round chamber of death, or something like that. They have you stand with your feet exactly covering the yellow feet painted on the floor, which must be more difficult for people who are very short, and then you are ordered to raise your hands over your head. This immediately leaves one wondering whether their pants are about to slip down past their knees or can one hold their stomach distended for the duration. Then, if you appeared suspicious or if you are an attractive female you are pulled aside and at a minimum, given a closer look with the wand and more if determined necessary. As an older and not that attractive male, I got to go claim my belt and other items and get dressed all over again, well, at least my belt and shoes and at my age the shoes are a challenge. Then my only interaction with a member of the TSA arrived, other than meekly complying as being close to missing my flight, resistance was ill-advised.

 

This last individual did posses a disarming smile which hid his antagonistic attitude which I was soon to appreciate. Apparently one is supposed to virtually unpack all carry-on luggage and place any number of classes and variety of items loose in an additional tray. As it was explained to me it was this way as by taking everything out of your luggage and placing it in trays it saves the poor, overworked, wonderful, caring, intelligent and flustered people from needing to actually open your carry-on luggage and inspect anything that was even slightly questionable on the X-ray. Then, while this gentleman, and I use that word very generously, painstakingly slowly opened my carry-on pieces, all two of them, and began to rummage through them removing a few select items scowling with each extraction, he proceeded to give me my class on which items must be separated so as to facilitate his not having to do one stitch of actual work. Apparently, other than my laptop computer and a few toiletries, items which it is understandable that they might require individual attention, I also learned that anything made of plastic such as brushes and combs, anything made of metal such as jewelry and such, and anything that would cause an X-ray unit to either be blocked or cause the image to appear distorted or fuzzy, I am sure that these are highly technical terms with precise definitions and our vigilant TSA screeners are fully trained to detect these anomalies. This concluded my experience with some of those who our government has placed on the front lines to protect our skies from anybody with evil intent. I still have one question about the staffing, why are there twelve or so TSA employees at each screening location when only five are actually manning equipment or rotating the trays from the end of the line back to the front. Perhaps the rest of these TSA employees are supervisory and elite personnel who are capable of discerning evil intent simply by being in the relative presence of such miscreants. All I know is that seeing such overwhelming numbers that is such a relief, sort-of.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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