Yesterday morning at about 5:30 or so, I made my way through the TSA security post at JFK’s Terminal 7. At first, it felt like every other security line I’ve been in over the last couple of years, in Austin, Dallas, Lubbock, Tyler, Houston, Costa Rica, Spain, or wherever.
But then I saw it – the infamous Full-Body Scanner machine. I say “infamous” because there has been some controversy surrounding the use of this new technology, which, in a nutshell, creates a “nude” image of you as you stand in front of it, in order to check for concealed objects. Opponents argue that the “scanners are being used to perform routine, virtual strip searches without probable cause which…are illegal, unreasonable searches that violate basic human rights.”
In other words, they’re worried the TSA isn’t checking to see IF you’re packing, they’re back there, snickering and giggling, about WHAT you’re packing.
Personally, I believe it a class issue. I think the chiefly white, relatively well-to-do business travelers are embarrassed by the thought of being (ahem) “scrutinized” by mostly minority, working-class TSA workers
I think the image that most of us have of the average TEA agent is "Jackie" popularized, with some degree of hilarity, a few years back by Maya Rudolph on Saturday Night Live. She had long, Flatbush Avenue/Fordham Road fingernails, doorknocker earrings, a ridiculous weave, and a talent for making a passenger’s life miserable, if she felt like it. In a word, she had “attitude.”
I have not found this caricature very accurate in my travels. Generally, the agents I have dealt with – hundreds of them, most likely – have been highly professional, respectful and very good at their jobs. I never feel inconvenienced by them. If you do, think about how much more inconvenient a hijacking would be. Or a bomb.
It is for this simple reason I always say “thank you” after going through security. I appreciate being safe, and every role these people are filling to be sure that I am.