Matt Sharp

More About: Transportation: Air Travel

Tales of the TSA

This morning at the Seattle airport, myself, dad, and sister were making our way through the TSA checkpoint to head back home. I blew through with no problems. However, when my dad came through the metal detector wearing his cowboy hat, they asked him to take it off so they could examine it. Instead of simply being a good citizen and immediately and unquestioningly complying, he decided to do the unforbidden and ask questions. My dad stated, “Well, I just saw three other gentleman walk through with hats, and you didn't ask them to take theirs off, why do I need to take my hat off ?” They replied that a cowboy hat is larger and items can be more easily hidden in it. Ok, that's great, sounds like a good explanation to me.

Like I said, when you start second guessing or questioning their commands, we all know what happens. So, the TSA agent standing at the end of the ramp where your luggage comes out of the scanner states with an attitude in reference to my dad, “Let's give him a little education ?” to another agent. So they pull him off to secondary and start patting him down. The agent was explaining that he was going to pat my dad's crotch down with the back of his hand. My dad asked “Well how far in my crotch are you gonna go”, and generally asking more questions, which of course made the whole fiasco escalate. My sister helped out by stating out loud, “Welcome to America, the Police State” for a couple agents to hear. My dad never told the agent he couldn't pat him down or do his job, however due to my dad's questioning the agent stated “Do I need to call the police down here,” to which my dad replied “Well, I don't know why you would want to do that.” Anyhow, after the intimidation / education / shakedown commenced, they took his bag over to be hand searched and swabbed for explosives residue.

The TSA kid checking his bag asked my dad if there was anything sharp in the bag he should know about. My dad said, “Well, I don't know, I don't know what you consider sharp.” Then it was my turn to chime in. I stated, “Yeah dad you can't ask questions or challenge their authority in any way, you have to blindly comply, or they'll act like a bunch of thugs.” My dad, sister and myself were pretty much a trifecta in unison poking jabs in this kids ears while he was attempting to search my dad's bag. The kid then freezes completely still and give me a look that could kill. The type of look that a cop gives you right before he tazes you or arrests you. The look of “You're fu@#$d.” I looked at him and said “What are you looking at, Keep doing you're job, we're not talking to you.” He then yells out “I need a Supervisor.” So, at this point a woman supervisor comes over and the TSA kid / agent states to the Supervisor and I quote “They're Talkin' Shit about US !!” “He (referring to me ) called us thugs.” I told the supervisor I didn't appreciate her agents using intimidation tactics for asking questions and informed her about her emplyees comment about “Giving my dad education.” I also told her I was shocked at the lack of professionalism her agent used by stating we were “Talking Shit About Them.” The supervisor didn't apologize for her employee and started the bag search over. At this point, four of the TSA goons are gathered around rubber necking like there was something to see.

So, I guess the moral of the story is that

A) They're not used to travelers challenging or questioning them in any way.
B) If someone does challenge or question them, they use intimidation tactics(They educate you)
C) They're a bunch of former Circle K workers with no class and get flustered easily.
D) And finally, it's obvious that their checkpoint setup is there to condition people to comply.
Let's be honest here. Anyone wishing to sneak anything in the airport terminals through
security is not going to start asking questions and get red flagged for secondary

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