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September 27, 2006

Searching To Improve Airport Security

Searching to improve airport security

By Elaine Viets

I’ve been felt up by fifty strange females since May.

I didn’t enjoy it, either.

I have a hip replacement. It sets off the airport detectors. When the alarm goes off, a burly woman who looks like Sister Mary Mildred in a security uniform lumbers out and pats me down. Sister Mary has her hands on my bra, around my waist, up and down my legs and backside.

I’m already convinced the plane is going to blow up. Now I’m facing Sister Mary Mildred, the woman who said I was going to hell. Maybe I’m already there. It doesn’t have to be like this. I know I’ll be searched every time I fly, and I’m on the road a lot. I’d much prefer to have a handsome young man run his hands all over my body. Who knows? I might even like flying again.

That’s why I have the following proposal to revolutionize air travel: We passengers get to pick the person who pats us down. When airport security calls out, "Female search" we can state our preference. After all, some people like burly females. I happen to prefer burly men. I’d ask for a male searcher. The men in uniform would line up, and I’d select one for a search. A young hunk, perhaps, if I was traveling for frivolous reasons. Or an older, serious gentleman for business flights.

It wouldn’t be personal. I understand it would be over quickly and I’d never see him again. That would be part of his charm. I know these security employees are underpaid, so if they did a really good job, I’d tip them well. Of course, I’d want a thorough search. Also, I want to make it clear that this feel-good plan is equal opportunity. Male travelers would be able to ask for the search person of their choice.

Think of it. Under my plan, people would happily line up at the security checkpoints. They would beg to be searched. They would leave smiling. The strain of travel would be lessened. Some people might buy tickets just for the security search. Money would flood into the ailing airline industry and the economy would fly.

Some people might be concerned that travelers would make crude remarks and unseemly gestures. That’s unlikely. Remember, an offended security person could "find" something on your person or in your luggage, and the next thing you know, you’d be wearing handcuffs, and not for fun. These people have power, and that gives the situation an interesting twist.

Some of you will be shocked by this proposal. Some will say security doesn’t enjoy pat downs on elderly people in wheelchairs, or metal-studded gimps like me.

That’s certainly true. However, some security employees are managing to find workplace satisfaction even now.

Consider Mike, a hunky ex-Marine with a lot of metal in one leg. He says the last guy who patted him down at the airport was obviously gay and very nervous. He kept announcing every move, "Now I’m going to touch your shoulders." (They were very large and hard.)

"Now I’m going to pat you along the waist." (That was very narrow.)

When he finished, Mike said, "Would you like a cigarette?"

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Comments

I dunno, Elaine. Might sound good in theory, but from what I've seen in practice, not that many men working for the TSA I'd want to pat me down. And have you ever gone through security at La Guardia? All those germs. (It was dirty, dusty and took - no kidding - an hour and a half!!)
What I'm looking for in a security line is fun! Or a conveyor belt....

Given the choice, I suppose a Mark Harmon clone (can you tell I have a serious fixation on this guy?) might be a nice change, but with my luck I'd get a Pee Wee Herman or a Brunhilda...believe me, getting patted down by either gives me nightmares! Of course I worry when they tell you NOT to take your shoes off...happened once and I actually volunteered to do so just to let them know I had nothing to hide. My neighbor had neck surgery a few years back, has a little metal 'cage' around one of her vertebrae. Sets off detectors in stores! She shrugs it off. On the other hand, I've been 'wanded' because my "angel" pin had too much of something in its composition. Maybe we could sign a waiver that lets us choose our 'pat-person' so the TSA is off the hook for the further discomfort of sexual harrassment allegations. I'm waiting for some cosmetics maven to bring suit because the 'nasty man made me throw out my Lancome!'.
Good flying and only hunky TSA's at your security checkpoints, Elaine!

Gee...a guy is going to pat me down now?!?
Let's just add more phobias to my phobia of flying!

I miss the days when I was a swashbuckling journalist, young & callow...

I want those "smart" passports that bascially does the security screening months in advance to hurry up and get into production. My husband's on the terrorist list---his identity was stolen by a wanted felon--so he gets stopped a lot. An informatin chip in his passport would clear up who he really is.

Hot post. I'm going to go play "airport security" with my wife now...

I laughed out loud at the idea of tipping your security person if they do a good job. Funny! And at Mr. Konrath's post.

But I suppose in reality, it must be a real PIA for those citizens who carry around metal in their bodies. My sympathies, Elaine.

Elaine - if you ever decide to stop writing novels (just in theory - please don't), I think you've got a great career writing for late night TV. "The Travel Diaries" or something like that.

How about a multi-purpose search? Perhaps physical therapists could do the searches AND get that knot out of the back of your neck - or maybe help rotate that stiff shoulder. People would be safer and more relaxed.

P.S. Coming this Halloween to an adult costume store near you: Airport Security and Helpless Passenger costumes. The mind reels at the accessories alone.

When we traveled to California a couple of weeks ago, the liquid ban was still in effect. But checking the airline's website on the subject, we discovered you couldn't carry on a bottle of water, but you were allowed a container of KY jelly. I'm just wondering if Osama bin Laden knew about this?

I like to fly out of my regional airport whenever I can. Lines aren't so long, but the TSA is just as vigilant, especially when you're there at 6AM! I have a better chance at 'hunky" too...I think we must be a training ground for newbies in the TSA. :o) Then I don't have to worry about the lines at O'Hare or Midway either ( and Sarah, the place is practically spotless. My socks don't even get dirty!)
Maybe I can find a nice female TSA rep for Dave next time I fly :o)
And I like the 'smart' passport idea as long as it also airbrushes my picture!

Osama and the Middle-Aged Mile High Club - don't even want to think about it.

Could you imagine if the scanners insisted on checking your KY? Especially that new "warming" stuff?

"We got a bottle of hot KY here? Is that yours, lady, the, uh, Warm and Squirm?

I WOULD NOT get on that flight.

Sarah, you just gotta learn to live a little. What was it that NFL Hall-of-Famer John Riggins said to Sandra Day O'Connor, as he was drunk on the floor at some event?

"Loosen up, Sandy baby."

I wonder if AstroGlide gets the same exemption.

Elaine, I know how you feel. I have two artificial knees and sometimes when it's busy I have to stand on line for the woman search. It seems like the line to Lourdes.
I do like the tension relieving massage idea.
Mary Alice...former fearful flyer and current grad of the fearless flyer club

Today in the Denver airport the man in front of me nearly wept as they confiscated his hair gel. It weighed in at 3.3 oz.

If only he'd rub .3 oz. on his body and gone back through again. But people never think . . .

Ever noticed how teenagers are never searched in airports? Or perhaps it's just me. Personally though, I'm all for this choose who pats you down but don't you think it would be hard to get people to apply for that job? Cause you know some ninety-five year old woman is going to ask for McDreamy to pat her down....and then we lose another wonderful employee.

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