Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Don't Opt Out
It was as if I had just asked for permission to punch the TSA agent's mother in the gut.
"You want to opt out?", I was asked in a loud accusatory voice. "Sir, do you understand what that means?"
Yes, I did. It meant that I wanted to go through the same metal detector that Mark had just gone through, not the scanner. It looked a lot easier than standing there with my hands over my head and giving some TSA flunky a look at my ass. Mark and I were on our way to Boston for the weekend, and as is tradition, nothing goes smoothly when I travel.
"Sir, wait right here.", was the order from TSA guy number one. Immediately a meeting of the minds began on the other side of the security equipment. With many glances in my direction, and a few fingers pointed, TSA was deciding what to do with me. Meanwhile I stood there with my shoes off, and my belt off, while I watched the said belt and shoes slowly snaking their way through the x-ray machine along with my wallet and everything else that had been in my pockets. I was the center of attention. Other passengers looked at me with scorn, and I was sure I heard a few snickers, and curses.
After a few minutes TSA guy number two came over and explained that I would have to be hand checked, and that this would involve touching of my groinal area. He continued to explain that I would be groped from my head to my toes, and asked if I had any areas that are sensitive to pressure.
"No, but all I wanted was to use the other machine...."
"Sir, you opted out and now have to be hand frisked."
I was being punished.
"Okay, let's get it over with.", I replied.
But no. It's not that easy. They have to make an example of you. I was herded over to an area off to the side of the security lines, but not out of view of the rest of my fellow travelers. It was as if they wanted everyone to see me being humiliated. Rubber gloved hands roamed up and down my body, with the TSA agent explaining out loud exactly what part of me he would be grabbing next. Five feet away, a Spanish speaking woman was being treated to the same attention by another TSA agent. Meanwhile, across the great divide was Mark, arms flailing about, and his squeaky voice drifting across. "Just go wait for me at the gate.", I shouted over to him.
It's obvious that I was being put on display for all the other travelers to see. I was the 'teaching moment' for them.
"Look, this is what happens when you don't go along with the script." was the implied message.
Well I can tell you, I learned from it. This morning when I passed through security returning from Boston, I followed each directive like Mary's little lamb, and as my reward I was allowed to watch some other schmuck get frisked as I breezed through.