I was at Portland International Airport, which travelers routinely rank as the best in the country. The terminal looks like a fine hotel. A fine hotel crawling with TSA blueshirts, that is.
The ratio of blueshirts to travelers was ridiculously high. There were blueshirts everywhere. It looked like an umpires' convention, minus the white canes and seeing-eye dogs.
I'll fast-forward to when I reached Checkpoint Charlie, the point I had clearly left the American sector and where everyone is either felt up or x-rayed as punishment for committing the horrific crime of flying while American.
At Checkpoint Charlie, I told Mr. Checkpoint Blueshirt that I would not be going through the millimeter wave scanner. Talking into his shoulder, he said quietly, "Male assist."
A young, giant (but very soft) blueshirt answered the call. I told him I did not consent to any searches, that any search would be against my will and under duress, and that what he was about to do would be a violation of my Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Talk about seizures — when I finished, he looked as if he was ready to have one.
Now it was his turn to talk into his shoulder. I couldn't hear what he said, but apparently he called for backup because another young, giant (but very soft) blueshirt appeared within seconds. Mr. Backup Blueshirt never did much except stay real close and watch me carefully.
I wondered whether either of them had an inkling what the Fourth Amendment says.
The first young, giant (but very soft) blueshirt — I'll call him Mr. Molester Blueshirt — asked me whether I had anything in my pockets.
"No," I said. "I just emptied them." But as I was saying that, I was also double-checking, and sure enough, I found a tissue. I proceeded to toss it into a nearby waste basket.
As the tissue was floating toward the waste basket, the two blueshirts didn't exactly panic, but they sure snapped to. "No!" they both exclaimed.
Then, with the tone he would have used had Wile E. Coyote tossed a package marked "TNT" into the garbage, Mr. Molester Blueshirt ordered Mr. Backup Blueshirt: "Take that out and check it!"
"Careful! I cried on it. I was visiting my dad in the hospital," I warned them as seriously as if tears were plastic explosives. But that was not an entirely accurate statement. I had actually snotted all over the tissue as a result of crying in the hospital. Take that, Mr. Backup Blueshirt.
Finally it was time for Mr. Molester Blueshirt to commence with the molestation. Like my first TSA pat-down a week earlier in New Orleans, this one wasn't grotesquely invasive. But this guy took it a little farther.
He asked, "Is it okay if I place my fingers in your waistband?"
"No, it is definitely not okay."
This stopped him cold and even flustered him. He glanced over at Mr. Backup Blueshirt. Mr. Molester Blueshirt was clearly at a loss, so I decided to help him out. I volunteered, "It's not okay if you place your fingers in my waistband, but I have to get to New Orleans, so do what you have to do to get me out of here, and I won't resist."
And in the next instant, I went from aggressively giving orders to passively allowing a stranger to place his fingers in my waistband and run his hands all around me, like a good, wimpy American that almost all of us have become.