About a month ago, I went on a trip to Vegas and New York with my girlfriend to represent the Australian Podcasters Cooperative in what turned out to be a typically over-the-top US event. Having not actually toured New York before, there wasn’t much we didn’t do or see. However, despite everything we did do, the memory that cements itself in my mind above all others doesn’t have a great deal to do with the trip – but rather how we got there.
I’m use to traveling as crew. We’re generally awarded certain privileges and usually don’t have to undress or subject ourselves to the brain-dead TSA storm troopers the way most people do. We’re ushered through to the front of the line and certain restrictions that apply to passengers don’t necessarily effect us. Surprisingly, the TSA agents in the USA are far more permissive with crew than the clones we have working in Australia. I’ve had tweezers confiscated from me in Australia before a flight only to walk into the cockpit that’s home to a crash axe.
As much as I would love to, I won’t comment on the gaping holes in airport security because of the likely consequences – we’re not as safe as the hand rape will have us believe. It really is a joke.
Anyhow, my experience as a passenger was just that… an experience. It takes me back to the tormenting visuals of watching my farming uncle comically dry-hump a sheep as a 12-year-old. It wasn’t as funny as he thought it was; and it’s certainly one of those things I’d simply prefer to forget. The visuals of my uncle manifests itself in ways that still troubles me today… particularly since that poor animal made its way onto the evening dinner plate. Anyhow…
It was an experience (to say the least) dealing with the US TSA and their intrusive nature (for those of you in Australia, our system is literally a walk in the park). I was a first time traveler since more stringent rules were applied to US domestic air travel so I really didn’t know what to expect. In reality, I have no excuse: I know air travel better than most people and should have known what I was in for. After shedding half of what I was wearing, I marched the walk of shame through the stale fumes of rotting feet and pungent BO through the detectors we’re all familiar with only to be handpicked by a short, stumpy black lady that decided she wanted to have her way with me… in a way I simply wasn’t prepared for. Violated is the only word to describe how it was that I felt. She didn’t buy me a drink or even ask for my name yet fondled me in a manner that I’ve not experienced from even those I’m closest to. My backside certainly wasn’t expecting Ms. TSA’s chubby fingers probing around for whatever it was she thought she’d find lodged between my butt-cheeks. I was a pair of pants away from an experience some people would be crazy enough to pay for!
Needless to say, it was unpleasant.
I took this ridiculous experience in my stride (as did my girlfriend and the thousands of others that endure it every day) and really didn’t give it much more thought – but I can’t help wonder if it’s really necessary.
I spent a number of years in law enforcement and often didn’t search suspects in the same way this TSA stooge searched me. Why? Well, the only reason I can think of is that because the TSA (seemingly?) recruit so indiscriminately and their agents are so poorly trained, the officers are expected to do their job badly… so asking them to conduct intrusive searches means that even an inadequate search may still be adequate enough. Essentially, what I suspect they’re doing is compensating for the fact their workforce are a bunch of baboons.