“Things Have Changed.” TSA Dorks Flex Muscles With New Rules

Aug 22, 2017 by

“Things Have Changed.” TSA Dorks Flex Muscles With New Rules

Recently I was flying from San Diego to somewhere no one at the TSA could ever afford. Following protocol, the bro guy at the podium sees the “SSSS” on my boarding pass and calls a supervisor.

“You’ve been selected for enhanced screening. Does that happen to you often?”


They always ask. And I always say no. Why be respectfully honest when you can transparently lie.

“Give me a moment.”

He comes back 30 seconds later with a piece of paper.

“Ok, I know you know how this usually goes, but 10 days ago we instituted some new rules.”

My lie was more transparent than I thought.

He starts reading off a prepared statement.

1. The emphasis of this robo-speech was that once the “enhanced screening” process began, I was not allowed to back out.

Take in the irony that the TSA is not deputized and has zero zero zero legal authority to compel anything. This detail didn’t occur to me in the moment or I would have told him this and have some sort of funny response quote for you.

Asking me to consent to something that resulted in my indefinite imprisonment until they were done doing whatever they wanted to me felt suspiciously close to being read my Miranda rights. As an ex-con, this seemed like a necessary place for one of those “trigger warnings” I’d been hearing college anarchists talk about.

The next change I was informed of came at the body scanner. People on The List can’t opt out. Bu there was a new twist.

2. “Step through the metal detector. Step back. Then step into the body scanner.”

I was now compelled to go through both the metal detector and the body

So that was weird.

3. The glory days of half-hearted patdowns were over.

You could tell the TSA was fresh out of some new thug indoctrination bootcamp, because the tone this day was entirely different. Especially the patdown.

It was one of those days where I was dangerously close to missing my flight. Entering the patdown and luggage-ransack phase, I couldn’t really think of any way they could make patdowns slower than they already were. Taking their sweet time was already protocol.

In years past, the “full patdown” only had the pretense of being real about half the time. The other half, the TSA agent sort of moved his hands around in case someone on the cameras was watching, but it was clear he wasn’t taking this seriously.

This time, I was patted down like they meant it. It was slow. It was thorough. And it would have cost $1 a minute in that little booth at the front of Whole Foods.

(The feigned “patdown theater” I had come to expect about half the time would
remain MIA, vanishing on this day and remaining absent until the time of this
writing. RIP fake patdowns.)

The patdown ended at my feet, where I was told to sit down and raise each leg.

4. New rule: Inspecting the bottom of the feet.

Finally. 15 years after 9-11, they had the genius lightbulb-moment insight to check under the feet. In prison, this was in the top 3 simplest smuggling surfaces, and guards always gave extra attention to the bottom of the feet. It was an  omission I’d really wanted to publicly make fun of the TSA for, but refrained. I didn’t want to tip them off to their amateurish oversight. And
smuggling is simply cool.

5. Then they swabbed my hands.

Another new one.

This was another prison move. It seemed they were taking pages from the Bureau of Prisons playbook.

“Swabbing the hands for explosives residue” was one of those stupid federal prison visiting room things. People travel dozens, hundreds, or thousands of miles to visit someone in prison, then get refused entry because trace amounts of “accelerants” were detected after they pumped gas en route to the prison.

I watched many hardened cons in near-tears when their once-annual visitor was turned away because a cheap “accelerant detecting machine” dinged their grandmother as a jihadi. False-positives were standard.

I know. My mom flew 2,000 miles once, got flagged as a bomb-maker, and was turned away.

Up to this point in the new patdown protocol, I’d stayed silent. But that never lasts long. Especially when I’m dangerously close to missing a flight.

6. New luggage search protocol. Dear Mother of God.

What happened next is best compared to some kind of reverse Borat skit where someone tries to build up the awkwardness temperature to such a fever pitch that the only outcome is getting yelled at. Which is my forte.

The TSA woman sloooooooowly unzips my carry on. Then sloooooowly picks up the first item of clothing, holds it up to the light, examines it from all sides, pokes at a few times, turns it over, massages it slowly, stares at it for awhile…

Two minutes in, she was still probing it. Turning it over like a cross between a motion-sensitive explosive and a muddy t-shirt she picked up off the ground at Warped Tour.

No TSA agent was this aggressively slothful. This was the “new rules.”

Countdown to takeoff

I had one eye on the clock. It wasn’t looking good.

This freak was literally working her fingers down ever inch of fabric on every piece of clothing like some kind of bizarre massage practice that hadn’t been invented yet. Making my flight, at this rate, was literally impossible.

“My flight stops boarding in 5 minutes. You can’t possibly go any slower.”

“You can get to your flight when I’m finished inspecting your bags.”

It was that unmistakable tone of smug condescension from losers who get a little power over someone for the first time in their loser life.

“Take your sweet time. Take your Sweet. #$^$&$%. Time.”

A guy in the elevated booth I didn’t know was in front of stands up and starts yelling,

“I told you things have changed. If you don’t cooperate, I have the power to end this screening anytime.”

I gave my standard line about “this is why everyone hates you” and resigned myself to the fate of a missed flight and a night spent at the airport.

Good thing I don’t have a real job and think sleeping in airports is kind of fun.

So this is it: how to turn The List into The No Fly List through the slow-smother of increased obstruction and choking off access one dumb rule at a time.

Hey manufacturers of suitcases with built-in spring-loaded boxing gloves willing
to comp me, get in touch.

-Jetsetting Terrorist

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