|Unidentified airline pilot after TSA screening|
at Miami International Airport
And what did the Transportation Security Administration officers in Memphis do to the put-upon Michael Roberts? Well after he refused to go through the full body scan en route to catching his flight to Houston, where he was scheduled to fly the line for ExpressJet, he also refused the obligatory pat down. Here's an excerpt of his story from the email sent to me on October 18th.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Michael we can all engage the TSA agents in philosophical questions about the best way to accomplish national security. We can argue and try to one-up the folks who's job consists, hour-by-hour, day-by-day of trying to keep airplanes out of the hands of bad guys for ungrateful air travelers by following orders that seem illogical at best and counter-productive at worst. But guess what? They're not the problem. They're not the decision makers.
Sorry, it feels like I'm stating the obvious, but you dear readers didn't have to read the 1700 word screed from Roberts. I did. And its clear to me that he doesn't understand that.
Michael, listen to me, the folks who made the policy are not the guys and gals wearing the crisp blue uniforms, not the ones who are asking you to take off your shoes, your jacket, and put your watch, keys and cell phone in the plastic bowl. That's right, you've confused the decision makers with the people they've employed to carry out the decisions. And those folks, the aforementioned hourly wage earners get little respect and lots of fish eye, when people like you suggest they're trying to cop a feel or catch an eyeful of your polarized torso when trust me, relax and enjoying any part of your anatomy is the last thing on their minds.
Get over it. You are picking on the wrong guys.
I've been busy writing my own 1,500 article for a European aviation magazine, (so I'm still flummoxed at how quickly Roberts put his 1,700 word email together, but I digress) And having just emerged from the myopia of that assignment a quick Google check shows that our man Roberts is the new darling of the right. Can Kate Hanni be far behind?
In his Salon column Ask The Pilot, my friend and aviation writer Patrick Smith takes up the case of his fellow pilot Michael Roberts. In his always entertaining way he recounts his own run-ins with airport security. Here's the difference, though, Patrick gets it...
"...as a front-line worker at the airport he had little say in actual policy or how to enforce it. That's fair enough, though it did not excuse his colleague's rudeness and hair-trigger temper."
As the mother of four I know something about hair-trigger tempers, so let me provide illumination. The TSA employees' day does not begin with your polite dissent, nor will it end there. The TSA checkpoint is like Disney's never ending river. Only this river ebbs with disgruntled people who take their frustrations at being stripped of their hand lotions and beverages, and treated like terrorists, or idiots or both, on the poor TSA officers.
You got a problem with that? Try this, smile and thank the grunts working to feed their families and carry out national policy and put your rage on hold. Then when you pick up your laptop on the other side of the check point, plug those 1,700 words into a letter to someone who's opinion on the matter counts and let the TSA agents carry on with the river flowing up behind you.