Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The pat-down lady didn't even touch my vagina

What should have happened
On the way to my parents' on Thanksgiving day I went through airport security really easily. I only went through a metal detector and didn't even see any full-body scanners in the security area. On the way home, I headed for the metal detector and was told by a security man that I had to go into the full-body scanner instead. Without metal detecting first. I went in the scan box and stood there for about 2 seconds before I was told I needed to go stand in the pat-down area. It was baffling. I had nothing in my pockets. I hadn't set off a metal detector because I didn't go through one. It didn't even seem like I'd been in the scanner long enough to be scanned. I had even offered to take off my sweater before the scan and go in in my tank top and they had been like, "No, that's fine."

I asked the lady why I was getting patted down when I'd heard you only got them if you refused the scanner. I was a little foggy because it was 5 am, but I honestly think she said something like, "There's always a chance you might get one. There's never a chance you're never going to get one." I stared at her enraged because I get angry when people confuse me, and then she said, "I'm going to have to touch your breast area. Do you want to go to a more private room?" I was all, "No, have at it."

And so after all the buildup and media freakout and family Thanksgiving conversations centered on inappropriate genital touching by federal employees, she only goes to my upper thigh. What in the. What if I was wearing an explosive maxi-pad and was the next underwear bomber?! She never would have known!

The TSA says that:
"Pat-downs are used to resolve alarms at the checkpoint, including those triggered by metal detectors and AIT units. Pat-downs are also used when a person opts out of AIT screening in order to detect potentially dangerous and prohibited items. Because pat-downs are specifically used to resolve alarms and prevent dangerous items from going on a plane, the vast majority of passengers will not receive a pat-down at the checkpoint."
So. Maybe wool sweaters and jeans look like explosives in the scanner. Or maybe my TSA lady was nervous and they were trying to give her a lot of practice so she'd stop being scared to stroke a stranger's genitals in public. Or maybe, maybe the TSA regulations are nice ideas but are poorly and arbitrarily enforced at airports based on how busy they are. I DON'T KNOW THAT MUCH ABOUT SAFETY BUT I SORT OF THINK IT'S THE LAST ONE.

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