The TSA agent who knew my name before I told her
A few flights ago, a TSA agent told me something interesting:
“In the future, go to the front of the line and tell them you’re a Selectee (i.e. on The List). That’ll let you skip the line and get right to the front.”
I’d never really thought about this, but I imagine it would work. While skipping to the front of every line at security sounds pretty awesome, my immediate reaction is: There is no way I’m going to be so undignified as to raise my hand and say:
“Excuse me TSA. I’m on your terrorist list and am submitting myself to your intrusive search and degrading security screening. Yoo-hoo, here I am. Take me.”
I have too much self-love. No way.
Then I was flying out of Seattle this morning. I was a little late. And the line was really long. Like, really long. I was sort of in the danger zone for possibly missing my flight. And I recalled the TSA guy’s advice.
A TSA woman was going down the line asking everyone to move against the wall or something, so I waved to her and said-
“Hey, I’ve got a boarding pass with the four S’s.” I pointed at my boarding pass.
She was 30 feet away. Well out of eye shot of the fine print on my boarding pass. And I never expected her response-
“Mister (my last name)? We’ve been waiting for you. Come with me.”
She knew my name. And she knew I was coming.
“What do you mean you’ve been waiting for me?” I asked.
“Follow me.” she said.
We bypassed hundreds of people and probably 30 minutes worth of line, and arrived at the podium where ID’s are checked.
“This is mister _____. He’s a Selectee.” (Again, TSA code for being on The List.)
They did the drill: Scrutinizing the boarding pass, looking at me like a caged unicorn, then calling for backup. A couple of TSA agents were standing around the podium at this point.
Someone came to “assist” me through, and as we walked away, one of the agents said-
“Have fun mister _____!” Said in the most flippant way possible.
As thuggy as they are, I had never heard them get snarky. I could only infer I had been a topic of discussion at that morning’s meeting. And I had been the subject of some form of belittling ridicule, making me worthy of this understated-yet-direct mockery.
Here’s the lesson, terrorist-watch-list-inductees: They know you’re coming. Be flattered.