TSA. No pre-check.
Did you have a visceral reaction? Did your body tense up involuntarily? Normally, I can immediately recount frustrations of epic proportions at the mere mention of the acronym TSA or the words, business travel. It’s like they are just beneath the surface, raw and ready to one-up in the appropriate frequent flyer circle.
Today, however, I saw TSA from the vantage point of the agents. I know. But remember that I’m late to this whole “adulting” thing.
The gentleman ahead of me in the security line… I mean, I briefly wondered how I could snap a picture of him for this post. He was every tourist stereotype. Loud ass clothing that screamed “I travel – a lot!” complete with staggering prints and colors, soccer jersey of some sort, and finished with a decorative ball cap (straight bill), passport lanyard and I’ve been-sleeping-in-the-airport body odor. This guy left his crap on the belt and proceeded into the scanner without looking back.
I’ve got you, guy. I’ll push your bags through. See you on the other side! Oh – your bags have been singled out by TSA for bag check? Shocker. Perhaps it was the urgency displayed as you awaited the bags on the other end of the scanner, or the fact that you reached in to grab yours, seemingly poised to pull off the heist of the century, Johnny Depp in “Blow” style. PS. Move your stuff down to the end of the belt to put your shoes on. Do you not see the people behind you? Do you not feel us all silently cursing you with our eyes?
The very sweet group of international school girls immediately behind me. Where do I begin? Maybe the water bottles and smart cart that they wheeled all the way through the security line, past the ID checking TSA agent… Just the sight of the cart, and our TSA gal was all “oh, hell no.” Her schpeel began to take on a flat, defeated tone, “please do not put your oversized bags in the bins, they don’t fit and it’s not necssary,” My eyes darted to the international travelers’ faces wondering if her words were registering. Nope. They stared at each other blankly, as if saying the only English words we know are “passport” and “thank you.”
All very cute in their matching school uniforms of pleated plaid skirts, white button downs and glasses. TSA continued flatly, knowing full well it was falling on deaf ears, “Laptops need to be pulled out and in a separate container…” her voice started to creep higher in pitch.
Oh, this lady is going to come undone I mused. These were just the folks immediately ahead of and behind me. She deals with this “errrday, all day’!?”
We exchanged looks. Hers: exasperated, do-you-see-this? Mine: holy shit, I hope you make good money.
Instead I said, “How much longer do you have today?” To which she replied “12:30. I think I’m going to have to drink.” I gave her a look that said I feel you, sister and proceeded through the scanner, trying not to think about foot fungus and other unthinkables getting on my bare feet.
After quickly assembling my scanned belongings and stacking a few abandoned containers (come on people!), I walked past another TSA agent who seemed to be in charge. I stopped, and went back to tell her: “You have a special kind of patience. I truly don’t know how y’all do it. Thank you.”
She laughed. But I held her gaze and waited an extra beat, so she would know the magnitude of what I was trying to convey.
“Thank you” she whispered sweetly. #respect