The following was sent to me by a long-time reader with the subject header “I HATE Flying.” But it says more than that. Thus my headline.
What follows is all from reader JP:
Due to financial issues, I surrendered, and took a contract because I need the money. Part of the work requires me to travel to Austin, Texas; and Eugene, Oregon. Yesterday, I came back from Austin, and went through the TSA portal.
I have flown exactly six times since the TSA was created. The last time was 5-1/2 years ago. EVERY SINGLE TIME I have been awarded extra attention. I think I mentioned a previous time where they forced me to turn my trowser waist down to see if there were any balls down there [sic].
On the way to Austin, I was selected for the stupid scanner. I opted out, and got the full pat down – much worse than five years ago (and that was bad). Yesterday, on my way home, in a very busy airport, I was selected yet again.
The first problem, was that they made me stand in a small 3-sided box and wait about five minutes. I was already shoeless, beltless, jacketless, hatless, and humorless, so I finally asked a blue-shirt exactly how long I was going to have to wait before I was molested (yes, I used that word).
That seemed to spur them, and they opened a little gate (with no latch of any kind), and waved me, and a wheelchair-bound man into the pat-down area. I was told to step into a little area and spread my feet. Silly me, I put my feet on these little orange-yellow Ronald-McDonald SHOE marks on the floor. Blue-shirt said to spread my legs wider – much wider.
Next, I was ordered to raise my arms to the five-and-seven position, palms up – a gesture I saw in several religious paintings from the renaissance – identical to sinners raising their hands in supplication to an angry god. Even the gesture of surrender in a scanner could not be more sordid, in my view.
I told my polite, blue-shirt that I considered this a violation of my 4th amendment rights, a violation of my person, and I only complied under duress. He said, “That’s nice.” He proceeded to tell me what he was doing at each stage. And, there were a LOT of stages. Somehow, blue-shirt seemed to think that if they touched my privates with the backs of his hands, then it would be more-better.
As I stood there, I watched the poor bastard in the wheelchair. He was made to elevate himself out of his chair; lift each dead leg; push himself forward, almost falling out of the chair; take his gloves off, and so on. He was clearly paralyzed, with the telltale wasted lower body, and obviously not a threat.
They asked me to take a seat, which I refused, then demanded that I lift each heel so that he could swab my now-filthy socks for yet another scanner. Wheelchair submitted to similar treatment. He was affable and polite, and seemed perfectly at home. I don’t know why I was morbidly fascinated by the spectacle.
We waited together for the green-light allowing us to find our respective tubs-o-stuff and I asked him how often this happened to him. He looked up at me, anger showing in his face, displacing his former smiling, affable, “chattel smile” and told me “Every time. Every damned time.”
The change was a light-switch. Seen only by me. When blue-shirt returned, the switch flipped again, and Wheelchair’s grin returned.
An hour-or-so later, I met up with Wheelchair again. I asked him if he noticed how the 13 year-old girl in my line was given a choice of scanner or metal-detector. He said, yes, he’d noticed that. It angered him that they would give a 13 year-old a “choice.” But, not because she was allowed to opt-out. Rather, because they should have naturally directed her to the metal detector, as it was clearly no radiation threat.
Wheelchair made a deep impression on me. The underlying anger was something to behold, and the blue-shirts were completely clueless that they were held in such deep contempt by him. They think Wheelchair may have actually liked that whole process. With me, they knew what they were dealing with. I hid none of my disdain.
My hope is that there are lots of Wheelchairs out there that are being misinterpreted. That they are legion, and unknown to their counterparts around Amerika.
I have to hope that, otherwise, the alternative is too depressing.