TSA Story #2

July 1, 2011

I’m on the road again which means…more fun stories!!! Yay!!! Well, that’s a good thing for you all. For me, it requires work, but since this is fun, is it really work?

Forgive me as I write this. I’m seriously jetlagged and my head still doesn’t feel quite right. I think jetlag actually messes with my equilibrium, because I’m literally dizzy. But none of that matters. You don’t come here to read about my troubles. You come for entertainment!!!

Well, I went through TSA again. Yes, folks. I have managed to avoid flying since my last TSA entry 3 months ago. I have been one with the road. I’m actually sticking with my threat to not fly unless I absolutely have to. It’s kind of impossible to drive to Germany. But I did actually look into taking a boat. Though it would’ve cost the same, it would’ve taken 7 days, and I would’ve still had to get to NYC and then get from London down to Germany. Both of which are driveable, but would’ve added another few days to the trip. So I had to opt for the not-so-friendly skies.

Before I even got to the airport, I had a plan of attack. If I wore as few items of clothing as possible, then they wouldn’t have to touch every part of my body, right? So I donned a skimpy tank and short shorts.I had another outfit in my carryon for flying. I got in the security line at Nashville airport. Like the observent person I am, I looked around to see which lines are being forced to go through the backscatter and then tried to get in them. Sadly, TSA is smart enough to know there are people like me who hate the backscatters…well, actually, a majority of Americans find them invasive, but I digress… so they now just randomly pull people to go through them. Alas, I was one of the unlucky few. I almost got into a line that had a backscatter that was out of order, but I missed it my 2 people! Dang!

So I got up to the TSA agent who was deciding who would be allowed to just go through the metal detector and who had the awesome choice of being exposed to unknown amounts of radiation or being touched all over my some stranger. One look at me and he sent me to the backscatter line. With as much puppy dog in my eyes as I could muster, I asked if I could go through the other line…and he actually stumbled a little over his words, and I could see he was actually feeling sorry for me!!! The battled raged in his mind over whether or not to let this poor young woman decide her own security fate! But, alas, in the end, he replied, “Er…well…I’ve selected you for this line so you have to go through.” And I replied with my only 3 words of somewhat individual power, “I opt out.” But still, it’s no victory since the result of my decision is a person touching my stuff.

So he pulled me to the side, and I waited for a female agent. Fortunately, the wait was maybe only 30 seconds, and I must say, this lady was much nicer than the other lady who got to know me intimately. I didn’t feel as though she had already considered me guilty of trying to harm other passengers, which is always nice. As she explained what was about to happen, she said, “And I will have to pat down only the clothed areas of your body…” to which I responded in my mind, “Woohoo!!! Part of my plan worked! Now if there was some way to have my special areas unclothed without actually having them unclothed…hmmmm…must consult with an expert.”

She began the pat down. Because I was scantily clad, it didn’t take so long, but I gotta tell ya…she was rather forceful. Her hand went up the inside of my leg to my crotch and had I been a victim of assault or abuse, I would’ve gone ballistic. I was actually caught off guard by it. She checked between my legs 4 times. Twice from the back and twice from the front. Really? Seems a bit like overkill. But my one saving grace is she forgot to check the front of my chest. Whew. One area of my body remained my own!!! Yes!

She ran the bomb dust test, and I was free to go.

Now, for those of you new to reading my blog and are curious as to why I am vocal about my TSA experienced, make sure read my first entry about it.

Since writing that entry, there have been a few more articles that have come out about how Homeland Security really hasn’t been all that forthcoming about the radiation studies done on the backscatter. Apparently, DHS’s claim that the National Institute of Standards and Technology had fully tested the equipment and deemed it safe is, well, false. Apparently the NIST didn’t actually test the equipment. Oops. radiation_NIST_USAToday

There has been a spike in cancer among TSA screeners at Logan in Boston. Now whether or not their work there is the reason or because it has allowed otherwise unemployed people the chance to have benefits so they are actually going to the doctor and this stuff is being found is debatable. But documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Electronic Privacy Information Center show that when heads of the union at Logan asked for testing to be done after they found these clusters of cancer, the TSA refused. In fact, the TSA refused to do any dosimeter testing on any worker. TSA workers are told that the radiation coming off the machines is less than a cell phone. Really? Have you seen how small a cell phone is? Have you seen how big those backscatters are? I feel bad for them. I’m pretty sure they are being lied to by their employer. Doctors and nurses who do x-rays have very strict guidelines as to how much they are around the equipment, they are in different rooms when the machine is used and are given regular tests to detect radiation levels in their bodies. While the backscatter may not give off as much radiation as an x-ray machine, it’s doing a similar job, and I actually do feel concern for those workers. I don’t like anyone being lied to.

So the saga continues.

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