5 questions for the TSA

Posted on
Jul 27, 2009
2

Photo courtesy of hyku, via flickr.com

I’ve been reading the TSA blog, which is a dark and ugly place. Then again, so is the TSA itself. Seriously – have you seen the new Harry Potter movie? Remember the part with those freaky zombie guys who look suspiciously like Gollum? The TSA seems kind of like that. You want to tread carefully for fear of disturbing them, because if you do, they’ll pull you down to murky depths of a lake and you’ll be totally screwed.

Or something like that. I suck at analogies.

The comments on the blog are brutal, and I’m not entirely sure they’re undeserved. I’ve had my fair share of negative experiences with the TSA (not as many as I’ve had with Customs agents, but that’s another post). And their blog kind of seems like a desperate PR move to smooth over any rough spots and appease the masses (with an absolutely asinine and fear-mongering tag line: Terrorists Evolve. Threats Evolve. Security Must Stay Ahead. You Play A Part.). But judging by the comments, it’s not really working. At all. Quite the opposite, actually. The only comments in defense of the TSA are from anonymous posters … I suspect either people working for the agency itself, or people who don’t want to be identified as siding with the agency. I don’t know what’s worse.

Their most recent post implores people to send in their top five questions for the TSA. And no one pulls any punches. Like I said, it’s brutal. I considered leaving a comment, but I’m so freaked out by the Draconian measures of the agency, that I’ve listed my top 5 questions for the TSA here. And I know, I know – leaving these questions on my own blog means they’ll probably never be answered by anyone. But according to the comments, that’s true of the TSA blog as well …

  1. Why do I need to keep taking off my shoes at the security check-point? As someone else brilliantly noted, I have three pairs of shoes in my carry-on. Also, I can’t even put them in bins now? When I travel abroad, I can keep my shoes on. This is bunk.
  2. Why am I hassled for not having the same last name as my husband? Seriously, I get interrogated when I explain that we’re traveling together, we’re married, and we have different names. Yeah, I didn’t take Fishkin. Go figure.
  3. Why are there absolutely no standards for security agents to follow? One minute I can’t take my deodorant (even though it’s a less-than-three-ounce travel size) another time I can because -get this – it’s apparently a solid (though according to TSA definition, it’s not).
  4. Why am I always selected for additional screening? If it’s random, why does it occur after an agent has been staring at my boobs, or can’t pronounce my last name? Seriously? It’s random? Also, why does this seem to happen more often to women in their 20s? I would LOVE to see a breakdown, demographically, of those chosen for “random” screenings.
  5. Please explain why 3 ounces of shampoo is safe, but 3.1 ounces is not.
  6. BONUS QUESTION: Do you make a concerted effort to hire douchebags, or does everyone eventually become one as a result of the job?

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  • 7. Why are knitting needles on the list of TSA allowed items, but sometimes they randomly decide to take them away from you? Either allow them, or don’t; don’t make us guess whether we can safely travel with our knitting, or whether a TSA agent may randomly decide to pull needles out of a work-in-progress, ruining weeks of work (and throwing away a perfectly good set of $15 needles).

  • 8. Why was I always randomly screened when I travelled with a New Zealand passport, but once I got a Washington driver’s license, I was not specially screened again for four years?
    9. What is it about my belt that could be used for evil?
    10. (Special British edition) Why are there two security checkpoints at Heathrow? What could I have picked up in between checkpoint one and checkpoint two that could possibly be on the List?

    And a special shout-out to the Miami immigration dudes: I knew you were going to let me into the country when you started flirting with me. And to you buddy in customs: yes, my suitcase is full of clothes. Imagine that!

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