Sunday, January 9, 2011

...And I Didn't Even Buy The Denver TSA Agent Dinner First

As I was moving through the TSA "security" checkpoint in the Denver airport this past week, I was selected to pass through one of the Chertoff radiation machines. I replied to the TSA goon, "I will be opting out. I will not be going through that machine today."

I fully expected the typical TSA treatment when one of the serfs challenges their unwarranted authority, which has historically been to yell "Opt out!" to their fellow dimwitted colleagues in an effort to embarrass their brazen victim.

To my surprise, the agent who directed me to the Xray machine quietly motioned to a fellow agent that he had a male traveler in need of the body pat down. I stepped aside and waited a moment or two for another male agent to appear.

The agent approached me and asked which bags on the conveyor belt belonged to me. I pointed to my belongings, and after seeing the man struggle to carry my suitcase and the numerous trays to the screening area, I offered to help. He immediately rejected my offer and informed me that once a passenger has been selected for additional screening, they cannot touch their luggage.

I followed the agent to the screening area where I placed my feet on the special mat with the footprints facing my luggage. He first offered to take me to a private room but I'd rather at least have witnesses to the sexual assault about to take place. The agent then told me that he would be performing a full body pat down but would use the back of his hands once he got to the "sensitive" areas.

The pat down continued as I had expected with the agent feeling my chest, back, arms, legs, etc. When he walked to my backside he informed me that he was using the back of his hands as he felt both sides of my rear. He then did something that I wasn't expecting: he pulled my waistband away from my body (both front and rear) and stuck his fingers inside my pants to feel the inner side of the belt area.

After rounding first base, he headed for the grand finale in my crotch area. He dragged the back of his hands down the sides of my privates, making only brief contact from outside of my jeans. My date ended with him informing me that I was free to leave now.

I was traveling with a coworker who was standing nearby, having already passed through the checkpoint using just the standard metal detector. He told me later that he wasn't sure if he was supposed to watch my amorous encounter and that it made him feel uncomfortable.

To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised at the overall attitude and nature of the TSA agents that I encountered that day. I'm generally very comfortable with my body and it would take quite a bit to get me bothered. However, I can see how this could be an extremely intrusive event for some people, especially those with a history of being sexually abused.

The solution is to get the government out of the security business. Let the airlines create their own procedures where the traveling public can actually have real options in the area of security. Choosing between getting eradiated by an untested machine, or being felt up by a mouth breathing government agent is not a real choice.