Friday, December 11, 2009

TSA and Me

I travel a lot. In particular, I travel through one small airport more than than others. I mean -- SMALL airport. I am shocked that after 18 months of travel through this airport TWICE a month -- the TSA people there still do not recognize me. They certainly do not know my name.

True, I have a sizable ego and I love it when people recognize me. (The barista at my neighborhood Starbucks knows my name and I see her waaaaaay less than my TSA friends.) But this really isn't about me. I'm not angry that they don't know me. I'm just curious as to WHY they don't. In the wake of that TSA manual being leaked on the web this week, I just got to thinking, that's all. With all the talk about airline safety over the last nine years, shouldn't we be focused more on bad people instead of looking for makeshift weapons and frisking old ladies? I mean, REALLY?

Why wouldn't TSA officials be trained to observe people and notice behavior rather than just look at bags and stare into X-ray machines? Why wouldn't a TSA officer notice a person who comes through their station over and over and over? Now, for those TSA or government officials who happen upon this post, don't get me wrong, I'm not asking for trouble here. I'm just wondering why your employees wouldn't know my name by now. What is it they are trained to do exactly?

Behavior is something that can be observed and scrutinized. My acting students are trained to observe everything. Actors are taught to observe behavior and make characters out of their observations. Police are taught to read a scene, examine suspects, look for clues, sense a situation. What could make that man walking with a limp? Why is that woman carrying her purse that way? Psychologists have created a whole discipline out of studying behavior.

Personally, I do not feel safer when they pull a 70 year old man out of line to wand his titanium hip for 15 minutes. I do not feel safer because I have to take off my shoes and put them in a plastic, on the, in the bin. I do not feel safer because a woman was asked to remove her shirt thereby exposing her camisole because her blouse "looked like a jacket." I do not feel safer when airport security fast-tracks a family of five with more baggage than a dozen Sherpas on expedition up Mount Everest. In fact, I feel LESS safe because the time they are spending with Octo-mom and her brood should be spent surveying the whole environment of the airport for real bad guys NOT helping those who by virtue of their ability to pro-create to get the best seats in the waiting area at the gate.

I don't mind being inconvenienced in the name of safety. I just don't want the TSA pretending that they are doing something they are not. You wanna look in my briefcase? Fine. You wanna frisk the old man in the walker? Okay. Just once in a while look us in the eye and make us believe you are really there to find bad people. I mean, is 5 ounces of hair gel really that much more dangerous than 3.4?

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