This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Trust Us, We Know What We Are Doing

The hubbub over the TSA pat downs and screenings make me angry. Angry that we are taking this. Angry that anyone thinks these muggles have the aptitude to determine what is a bomb. Angry that no one seems to think that the loss of logic and rationale has come into play and that all are created equal. It's the laziest form of regulation: we don't have the intel to figure out who might be dangerous, so we will pat you old ladies and you young ladies (hehehe) because we are sheep and can't do any better.

This is the guy looking through your bags. I retrieved this picture straight from the TSA website. While I don't normally judge a book by its cover, the very fact that I have personally interacted with TSA agents in the past leads me to stereotype these folks as this picture summarizes.

I will be honest. I have no idea what type of training they go through *but* I find it very very very very difficult to believe that these are people who would be EOD-worthy. Call me a little jaded: both my dad was a "bomb-dumper" and my husband was a security policeman while they were in the military.

OK. I have a little bit of an idea, based on TSA job qualifications for a Transportation Security's lengthy but I read through it and it certainly doesn't make me feel like changing my stereotype.

First, the job description:
You will perform a variety of duties related to providing security and protection of air travelers, airports and aircraft. As a TSO, you may be required to perform passenger screening, baggage screening or both. You are expected to perform all of these duties in a courteous and professional manner. The principal duties and responsibilities include the following:

* Perform security screening:
o Of persons, including tasks such as: hand-wanding (which includes the requirement to reach and wand the individual from the floor to over head), pat-down searches, and monitoring walk-through metal detector screening equipment

o Of property, including the operation of x-ray machines to identify dangerous objects in baggage, cargo and on passengers; and preventing those objects from being transported onto aircraft

* Control entry and exit points
* Continuously improve security screening processes and personal performance through training and development
Qualifications required:
* Have reached his/her 18th birthday at the time of application submission;
* Be proficient in English (e.g., reading, writing, speaking, and listening);
* Have a high school diploma, GED or equivalent; OR
* Have at least one year of full-time work experience in security work, aviation screener work, or X-ray technician work.
For those considered for evaluation:
Applicants who meet the minimum qualifications may be invited to take the computerized Screener Assessment Battery. These tests evaluate English proficiency, and the aptitude for x-ray interpretation.

If you pass the computerized Screener Assessment Battery, you will be eligible to be scheduled for additional assessments. Additional assessments include: (1) a color vision test; (2) a job-related medical evaluation; (3) a drug test; and (4) a structured interview.

In addition you may undergo a personal interview. If you successfully pass each of the above assessments, you will be considered further for employment. Preference will also be afforded to veterans (under Title V and ATSA) when candidates are referred for consideration and in the selection process.

However, if you *don't* pass the first time, not to worry!
If you take the computerized Screener Assessment Battery and do not pass, you must wait six (6) months before you can be tested again. Also, if you fail any of the other assessments, you cannot be re-assessed for a TSO position for a minimum of six (6) months after the date you failed.

Did they copy that verbatim for how to retest for your driver's license?

Don't get me wrong. I don't want any plane to go boom. And that's what becomes the frustrating argument FOR the TSA methods: they are securing the airways. PUHLEEZE motherfuckers? You think these guys, who have ogled me and flirted with me, or who have treated me with an elitist attitude of power, are the people saving us from planes blowing up?

Doug Stanhope, one of my favorite comedians (he's coming to Raleigh, but perhaps I shouldn't see him since I recently saw Giraldo and Schimmel and look where they are now...) wrote this on his website, which inspired me to write my own TSA musing that has been simmering in my head for some time now. A few of my favorite quotes from his post:
Some Job Corps airport chump watching the x-ray images, getting a weeping erection staring at the images of your naked youngster? The idea that over a course of time these screenings could make your child look like a bullfrog with his new neck cancer? Or simply settle for the out-right humiliation of watching him be molested right in front of you while the other TSA goons shove you in the chest and direct you where to stand?
Either way, remember - and remember this clearly - that to quietly accept the current TSA rules without protest is exactly the same as saying "It's perfectly okay with me for the government to ogle or fondle my child's sexual organs as well as rape my grandmother."


  1. You calling them muggles made me smile.
    I haven't had much experience with airports (the last time I flew was three years ago, and I'd only been on a plane twice before that), but despite that, this made me think "THAT'S A GOOD POINT" several times while reading.

  2. TSA your so bad that flyers would rather deal with the terrorists.

  3. To the anonymous poster: looks like you might have to wait six months to apply for a retest with TSA. It should be "you're" as in "TSA you ARE so bad..." It is still a terrible sentence with only a "nanny-nanny boo-boo" context to it. It is good you remained anonymous.

  4. I found this post linked on Facebook from the Boycott Flying page, and then I noticed you'd written about Raleigh. Then I looked at your blog links and saw people I know. I hosted Kerry's baby shower at my house last year, and I remember you. Small world! Great post!

  5. Hi Shannon! I remember you! What a small world!! Thanks and I guess I'll have to check out the FB page!!