Sunday, November 15, 2009

TSA follies

Traveling down to New Orleans a few weeks ago allowed me to add yet another story to my growing collection of TSA tales of idiotacracy. This latest encounter with the slackers and fools that the Transportation Security Administration still makes me smile and Nicki fume. Remember that these baggage screeners were once condemned by our government as being unfit and unable to secure our airlines when they were working for private companies at minimum wage, so a new bureaucracy was created--TSA--and most of the same slackers and losers were immediately hired by the new agency, paid five times what they'd been making before, and given union representation and civil service protections. So now we have the same poor security, just at a higher price tag.

Anyway, as we were departing Baltimore Washington Airport, Nicki's bag was opened and her container of toothpaste was confiscated, supposedly for her protection and ours, as the TSA goon claimed. As absurd as that was, what was even better was that I, being a special case by virtue of my leg, went through a different screening process with a different screener, and I was allowed to keep my tube of toothpaste, a fact which only added to Nicki's outrage and sense of personal persecution.

Fortunately for her, I was nice and I shared mine with her.

But this lack of a set standard, evenly applied and tempered with common sense, is why many of us still don't believe that we have any sort of credible airline security. Israel has airline security; America has a system that basically just inconveniences and annoys travelers.

A prime example of the foolishness of some of these rubes was the time that I flew out west a few years ago. I was authorized to carry a sidearm on board the aircraft--which I was doing--and the TSA nimrod still insisted on confiscating the small set of scissors in my shaving kit! A brief discussion between me and his supervisor yielded no joy, and I permanently lost the scissors. Not a big deal actually, but what's the rationale there? Did they thing that I was going to give someone a manicure without their consent? I mean, damn--I was carrying a 9mm pistol and two extra magazines on my person, and that was ok, but the tiny scissors in my travel bag was somehow presenting a clear and present danger. My head still hurts when I try to figure that one out.

Every time I have to deal with these clowns, I'm reminded of that priceless scene in the movie "Home Alone 2", where the angry mother asks the hotel concierge (played masterfully by Tim Curry)what kind of idiots they employ there, and Curry responds smugly: "The finest in New York!"

Curry should consider becoming a spokesman for TSA. He's got it down perfectly.


  1. Having flown much since 9/11 and not nearly as much before, I can't relate to the 'relaxed' security enjoyed previously. However, I can say that I've gone through screening with all kinds of things in my pocket. None of them intentionally, but all of them 'banned' (metal nail file in back pocket, lighters when you weren't supposed to, etc)..
    Needless to say, their screening process does not increase my feelings of security on a plane.

  2. You reminded me to do a post about it too. I did. With a lot more cursing.

  3. My favorite one occurred in 07 when I was travelling back and forth between Tampa and Detroit. After suffering through the "screening" process in Detroit (which was staffed by the single biggest group of churlish petty tyrants in existence) I boarded the flight and settled in for the duration. Two rows ahead of me, a nice grandmotherly sort, who looked vaguely "middle-eastern" what with the burqua and all, took out her Farmer Jack carry on and pulled out her frigging KNITTING, complete with those foot-long, metal needles they use! Oh I felt all warm and fuzzy to be sure!

  4. Okay. Now that whole confiscation of the scissors while you are carrying a 9mm is ridiculous!! How in the hell did those people manage to get that job?!? And toothpaste?!? ugh. How freakin' ridiculous!

    If I can make it thru airport security with a shaving razor and fingernail clippers, not once, not twice, but 4 times in less than a does toothpaste classify as a weapon?!?