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home : features : features April 16, 2014


4/7/2012 10:02:00 PM
Column: Airport security a gauntlet of humiliations
Photos.com
TSA agents will openly smirk at your embarrassing toiletries Ė just deal with it.
Photos.com
TSA agents will openly smirk at your embarrassing toiletries Ė just deal with it.

Casey Martin
Courier Columnist


I love to travel. The siren song of anywhere but where you live appeals to most, I think.

Even people who live at the foot of the Eiffel Tower or the pyramids must want to get away and see less wonderful wonders. I enjoy viewing new vistas and trying a new McDonald's. My father-in-law once texted me a picture of a painting of York Minister Cathedral on the wall of McDonald's across the street from the cathedral.

Since I work from home, some days I don't even leave my house. I don't plan it that way. I just don't need anything outside some days. I'm not a hermit, just lazy. So I'm not jetting off to Singapore with a brief stop in London often, but this week, I'm writing to you from a small town in Wheatland, Wyo., where my parents live. And in order to get here, I had to travel.

The actual traveling doesn't bother me. I get a kick out of being thrust back in my seat at take-off as well chuckling to myself at the faces of the nervous fliers. I don't mind at all, pointedly ignoring my seatmates.

But security? That's my downfall. I'm not griping about having to wait in line or any invasion of my privacy. It's that they are so utterly serious about it that I'm secretly terrified that I may be a terrorist without knowing it, that I might have inadvertently brought a nuclear weapon in my suitcase.

So I do try to be careful when packing. Every time I fly, something slips my mind about going through security. Last time I flew, I had a large bottle of hairspray. The TSA worker, a look of exasperation on her face, pulled it out of my bag and held it in front of me. "You do know that you can't take this with you. Too large."

"Sure."

"So what do you want to do with it?"

"Um... do you have a trash can?" Did she think I was so wedded to my hairspray that I would be willing to leave the line and pour it into appropriate sized containers? In the end, she exchanged her scowl with a smile and dropped it with a loud thunk into a nearby garbage can, no doubt bursting at the seams with cans of hairspray and too-large toothpaste containers.

When placing my suitcase and laptop bag on the shelf, I was given a list of all the things I had to do. I had to take my laptop and place it into its own bin. I also had to remove my toothpaste and anything else that would be "wet to the touch" and place it in a separate bin as well.

Sure, I thought. I'll take out the toothpaste. While rummaging around in my toiletry bag, I found something else that certainly fell into the category of "wet to the touch" - a bottle of black fingernail polish.

I'm secure enough in my masculinity that I can carry around a bottle of black fingernail polish. I always have one fingernail painted black. It's something that my four daughters started a while ago, and I've just let them continue to paint that one fingernail ever since. It always reminds me of my daughters when I look at it.

The night before I left, one of my daughters painted the nail and did just an awful job. She then packed it for me in my toiletry bag in case I wanted to have a manicure session. Honestly, I don't usually travel with fingernail polish.

So, despite my masculine confidence, I was still left with the uncomfortable decision about whether to just "forget" that it was in there, or pull it out.

I pulled it out. After all, I didn't want to prolong the process any longer than necessary, nor did I want to so irk a TSA worker that I would then be subjected to a more invasive examination involving rubber gloves and a chair.

And no one batted an eye. Except for the two guys who were pushing the bins into the X-ray machine. They didn't exactly bat an eye. More like cocked an eyebrow and smirked.

But I made it through security with a clean bill of health. I stood with everyone else redressing. Doesn't it seem strange to put your belt back on with a bunch of strangers?

But it's a necessary evil, I suppose. And I wasn't one of the lucky ones to get patted down. But the best part was that I got to walk on one of those moving walkways immediately afterward. I'd go through any intrusive search just to walk on one of those. Makes me feel like the Flash.

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• Column: Bloom is off the rose before you know it
• Column: Idioms are words to live by - literally
• Column: Restaurants are kids' social training ground
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• Column: Work clothes, bathing optional at home office



Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, April 08, 2012
Article comment by: Bill Fisher

TSA is merely security theater and a jobs program for unemployable misfits. After sixty billion dollars over eight years they can't cite one success. In two separate GAO tests in 2011, TSA failed to detect weapons 70% of the time while 60% of the freight in the cargo-hold remains unscreened. They confiscate items their website says are allowed but four of their screeners were caught smuggling drugs, which could have as easily been explosives, through security,

There have been 12 TSA screeners arrested this year including four last week. Another 72 TSA screeners were arrested in 2011 for crimes, including eleven sex crimes involving children. TSA canít prevent crime within their ranks but want us to trust them with airport security.

Itís pretty creepy that the wholesale sexual assault on women is being sponsored by a blatantly gay woman. Napolitano claims empathy for the women being molested but doesn't have to endure it. Incredibly, everyone seems to ignore this obvious fact.

This agency is a national disgrace and complete failure. The lack of responsible management enables many abuses, crimes and failures to continue to occur. TSA is too broken to be reformed and must be replaced with something that actually works.





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