I Got A TSA Guy To Pick Up My Boarding Pass After I Threw It At Him

Oct 15, 2017 by

I Got A TSA Guy To Pick Up My Boarding Pass After I Threw It At Him

I’d broken up with my girlfriend. Pulled some Jedi business power moves. Visited family. And was now overdue for some kind of zen voyage / writers retreat / techno detox / quest to “find myself.”

I’d been to 49 states. Alaska was #50.

So I bought a ticket to Anchorage and went to the airport with almost as little luggage as I had plans.

It’s really none of your business where my mom lives, but let’s get this out of the way: The airport was small. And it was in the South.

This airport has been the setting of several TSA follies covered in this site, and many more that aren’t, including the time I threw my bag 20 yards towards security after a missed flight and somehow didn’t get arrested.

There was a time when I was well known to everyone at this airport. Not on a first-name-basis level, but an “Oh, you again…” level. But after the passing of several years, TSA turnover had given me a clean slate at Hillbilly International Landing Strip.

A note on the TSA in small towns

As previously covered, (see: “Flying Out Of A Small Town Airport, AKA The TSA Goes Bananas”), flying out of a small town airport as a terrorist is an “enhanced” experience. Upon my boarding pass being scanned, a procession of doofus-ism and binder page-flipping ensues. They haven’t done this in a while, and goddamn it they’re going to make an event out of it.

What does this means for us? Let’s illustrate with a grapefruit:

Atlanta TSA: <Clearly not a glock. Rolls grapefruit aside>

Minneapolis TSA: <Holds grapefruit up to ear, listens for ticking sound>

Hillbilly Landing Strip TSA: “Looks like a fuseless pink version of a bomb from some 20s caper film. Call out the hounds.”

At Hillbilly Landing Strip, everything is suspect.

Uh oh. I had forgotten about last night.

I took off my shoes at the X-ray machine and looked down. Oh no…

Of all the nights to get into a literal paint fight with a friend at her art studio, I’d chosen last night. If a paint fight sounds vaguely romantic, I can assure you it was strictly war.

The paint fight was ugly. No restraint was shown on either side. And it ended with everything I’d worn being saturated in red paint.

I’d washed everything. Everything but my socks. Socks now covered in dark red paint.

Perhaps you see where this is going…

So there I was, under extreme scrutiny and marked violent enough to warrant attention from the Department of Homeland Security, standing in front of five TSA agents, with socks splattered in dark red liquid.

The photo I took in my Anchorage hotel later:

TSA socks

If it’s not clear in B&W, that’s glaring globs of red liquid smeared everywhere.

I went into shoplifter mode, where you’re going through the line buying something cheap with $120 of merch tucked under your arm. All you’re doing is watching the employees eyes. Watch their eyes.

No one looked down.

A woman approached, held up a laminated sheet, and cleared her throat. This was the TSA Miranda Rights, only opposite, where they basically told everything you didn’t have a right to. Implemented sometime in early 2016, I’d since heard this speech at least two dozen times. Consistent with TSA’s lack of consistency, at no two airports was the speech the same.

I passed through the body scanner and entered the luggage search.

The thing about these hillbilly airports is that they’re so short on action a terrorist becomes a major attraction. It’s not even flattering. It’s just annoying.

Seven (seven) TSA agents crowded around my luggage, fighting for a piece of the action. Any break in the inner-rung and someone flicked their hand in to grab a book or shoe, the rest rubber necking for a glimpse of just what an Enemy Combatant packs for Alaska.

All I’m going to say is, it’s the only time you’ll ever see several people that dumb holding books in one place.

Atlanta layover

As previously covered, starting in 2016, I am re-screened for every flight on my itinerary. At every layover, the TSA sets up at the gate, searches everyone, and pats me down – again.

Me: “I already went through this.”

Atlanta TSA: “Random search.”

Me: “How can it be random if you do it every flight.”

“Random” is their chant to placate the plebes. Ask them why you’re being searched. It’s random. Random. Random. “It’s random.” Sir it’s random. “Random search sir.” Whole world is random. All things are random. Random  random random everything is randommmmmmm RANDOM SIR.

What Alex Jones is to “new world order” the TSA is to “random.” Every sentence leads back to random, and if it’s not random, you must be random. Random? Random-off Sir Random A Lot.

Real heroes.” I muttered to them, and boarded.

Seattle layover

I counted ten TSA agents swarming the gate. This was going to be good.

TSA set up a long row of various carts and tables. Seattle lemmings lined up like good little subjects and presented themselves to the TSA to board the Deutsche Reichsbahn railway I mean cough airplane.

The gate was oddly positioned, and after a little recon I was hopeful I’d spotted a loophole. If I caaaaasually slid behind the desk of the neighboring gate, I would emerge just past the TSA check. And if I didn’t make any abrupt movements, I could slowly merge into the post-checkpoint flow of traffic, and circumvent all this nonsense.

TSA searching bags. TSA standing against the wall. TSA at the entrance to the jet bridge. Only way to do this was hide in plain sight, and no sudden movements…

Deep into a non-existent phone call with a non-existent friend, I eeeeeased out from behind the desk, slowly, and merged with the line. This was working.

Victory declared, I exhaled and handed the agent my boarding pass. It made the obligatory stork-squawk sound, where they have to enter a few keystrokes to clear me for boarding. A minor formality, but the woman was having a little trouble.

The TSA agent three feet to her left stepped over. She handed him the boarding pass. He waved over another agent. They both turned to me.

Have you been screened?

There’s always a point in getting caught where a line is crossed, which I call the “let’s get this over with” line. It’s that irreversible point, known intuitively to all criminals, where things have progressed past the limits of your ability to talk or fight your way out of them. It’s over. So “let’s get this over with…

A supervisor got involved, and I’m standing around with three TSA agents looking concerned but not sure what’s happening.

TSA supervisor: “I’ll need to see your boarding pass from your originating flight.”

Me: “I don’t have it, and I’m not obligated to keep it.”

TSA: “If you don’t have it, you’ll need to go back out to security and be rescreened.”

Me: “I fly three times a week (lie). That’s not a rule and you know it.”

TSA: “You can do one of two things: Show me your boarding pass, or go back through security.”

Me: “This is why everyone hates you.”

I reached into my pocket and threw out a flurry of boarding passes and Clif Bar receipts. They fluttered to the ground. Everyone in eyeshot was now

At this point I was in a very precarious place. All the odds were he would tell me to pick them up. Then I would tell him no. Then he would say I wasn’t boarding the plane unless I picked up the boarding pass and handed it to him. Which would never happen. Too much dignity on the line.

This would be lose-lose, because while I got to make a dramatic show, the last laugh would be his.

But in an unheard of display of supplication, he kneeled down and picked up my boarding passes (and other assorted trash). I couldn’t believe it. This was great. What a beta little bitch.

“I can’t let you board this plane,” he said.

Me: “Why.”

TSA: “Your boarding pass isn’t stamped.”

He was literally smiling as he held up my pass. It was a 100% lie and he knew it.

Among the top hilarities of TSA randomness (random! random!) is the absence of any uniformity among the various stamps and punches they inflict on your boarding pass after “screening.” These are what the gate person looks for when they scan your pass and have to manually clear you on their computer. Is the pass marked or not?

Every airport does it differently. I’ve seen clover-shaped punches you can get at Staples. I’ve seen orange stickers you can get at Dollar Tree. I’ve seen 10 kinds of ink stamps.  Mostly, someone just scribbles their initials.

Zero zero zero uniformity.

Which is why the TSA supervisor telling me mine didn’t have the “right” stamp was a bad joke. And his grin let me know that he knew.

His ultimatum was issued. My flight left in 20 minutes, making this a missed flight. I had at least ten such missed flights in my tenure on The List.

Walk of defeat

A TSA agent shadowed me back to security. What happened next was a devolving succession of insults and “hurry up” and “you guys have no idea what you’re doing” and “you’re a parody of yourselves” and eye rolls. I literally hate them.

When they tried to take me behind a translucent partition to do their “additional screening,” I stopped in my tracks.

“I don’t trust you, you’re creeps, and I’m not going anywhere there aren’t witnesses.”

They all looked at each other for an awkward moment. Then took me back to the main line.

And thus began the entire 20+ minute search process. Again.

Once completed, defeated and without a plane, I listlessly fumbled my way back to the gate. I planned to get rebooked and sleep. Takeoff was 15 minutes ago.

But when I turned the corner, the Delta agent was still there, looking at me, and flailing her arms. The plane hadn’t left.

The final tally

Three patdowns, three luggage searches, 12 hours, and 25 TSA agents later, my multiple boarding passes had been stamped, signed, punched, and handled by every TSA supervisor across three airports. My transfer into a federal prison required less scrutiny.

In a final indignity, ten feet before the gate, a TSA agent holds up his arm,

“Sir, I need to see your ID.”

Hey Bin Laden

That’s it. Your last punchline has been delivered.

You win.

-Jetsetting Terrorist

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