Case of the Overly Familiar TSA Agent

The following is a true story. The names have not been changed because everyone is innocent.

I am preparing to walk through the TSA scanner in the Baltimore airport.  The TSA agent waves me through and as I emerge from the other side the alert buzzer sounds and the TSA agent loudly announces “Randomly Selected!”

I am ushered back out and around to a Full Body Scanner.  I am waived into the scanner, put my hands over my head as instructed, and asked if my pockets are empty.  I say yes.

This is a lie.

I am actually packing a fully loaded, highly combustible……wallet.  I have been through this machine many times and never removed my wallet so I didn’t think anything of it.  I step out of the machine and the scanner indicates that I have something on my person near my rear passenger side buttock.

This elevates the situation to a pat down of the suspicious area.  “Would you like a private room or would you like to do this right here?”  I resist the instinct to make a joke about the private room and opt for the public option of the…uh,…we’ll call it a pat down for now.

My wallet is gone through with a fine tooth comb and then the final step is a quick swabbing of my palms for suspicious substances.  Swab, swab…..alert!  I am positive for suspicious substances.  I ask what the swab is testing for and am told “without getting to technical it is testing for anything that could be a danger to the aircraft.”

Makes sense.

I ask him to go ahead and hit me with the technical part.  He says “Honestly, I don’t know.”  We both laugh.  Now I have a friend in this adventure because he has been honest with me.  And it’s a good thing we are now friends because what comes next should never happen between strangers.  I am offered a private room again.  I decline again.  Full body….I can’t say “pat down” because that doesn’t capture it.  It was more like a purposeful grope.

No wait….it wasn’t LIKE a grope.  It was a full throttle, take off your shoes and belt, my hands are in your pants all the way around your waist, and now making firm contact (outside the pants) with ALL parts of your anatomy from ankle to shoulder….grope.

We move on to the bags, of course, and we’re unpacking and swabbing everything.  Now with the bag fully unpacked my new friend turns to me and asks whether I prefer to re-pack it myself or have him do it.  I say “you broke it, you bought it”….and we both get another laugh as he re-packs the suitcase.

Now you may think that the reason I am telling you this story is to complain about the TSA….or to paint myself as a victim….or to illustrate government ineffectiveness, etc.

Naw….I’ll get to all that stuff another day.

Today I want to suggest that sometimes we get so focused and committed to a process or a task that we forget WHY we’re performing it.  If I’m going to make my living putting my rubber gloved hand down peoples pants….I want to know what the purpose is….what EXACTLY I am looking for.  The last place I want to be is in someone’s shorts when I get the question “What are you looking for?”…and not have a good answer.

Now ask yourself this question…

What is the thing that you do routinely in your life, that probably had a purpose at some point but serves little or no purpose now, that takes time but does not add value, that you would have a hard time explaining or justifying if put on the spot?

…and if it involves a rubber glove let’s just keep that to yourself for now.  But anything else I’d love to hear about below in the comment section!

Oh….and if you think your life does not contain an example of non-essential behavior……well,….ALERT!

“Would you like a private room or would you prefer to do this right here?”

 

(If you like this post please SHARE on your favorite social media medium.  That will mean a great deal to the overworked, underpaid staff members in the basement.  It will warm their little hearts.)

8 Replies to “Case of the Overly Familiar TSA Agent”

  1. “If I’m going to make my living putting my rubber gloved hand down peoples pants….I want to know what the purpose is….”

    I feel this way about doctors and nurses. I always want to know why they do what they do (if I don’t already know), and they always act a little surprised.

  2. The medical community is an interesting example for me too. First, if they are not receptive to questions….they get replaced. Though I think most patients probably don’t ask a lot of questions….intimidated by the lab coat, etc. Second, I think a lot of times medical care is kind of like a mill. If you are a doctor or nurse you likely spend most of your days treating the same things over and over again. It can probably get monotonous and predictable….which is why I think it’s important for them (and us) to always be on the lookout for non-essential behavior….with or without the element of a rubber glove. 😉

  3. Very thought provoking… Great question: What is the thing that you do routinely in your life, that probably had a purpose at some point but serves little or no purpose now, that takes time but does not add value, that you would have a hard time explaining or justifying if put on the spot?

  4. Ahhh indeed. In my job the answer is not known for most mundane of tasks because I don’t even think our customers know the true purpose of the “Why” . Thus the answer to our staff is always “Just because”. When really you want to say “Total waste of time! NO ONE EVEN KNOWS WHY!”

  5. I guess I’m at the other end of the spectrum, I’m 76 years old, retired and now everything I do serves a purpose, or I just don’t do it.

    Is there something wrong with me that I cant think of one thing I do that doesn’t serve a purpose. Maybe I should ask around!

    Good question, Ken. Love your blogs, keep it up, makes me think and always enjoyable.

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