Right before getting to the first checkpoint, I saw a sign telling me how professional and important the TSA screeners are. It ended with a directive to treat them with the respect they deserve. My first thought was, "I would be in serious trouble if I stooped to treating them with the respect they deserve."
Overhead, a propaganda video featuring TSA administrator John Pistole informed us cattle that the TSA is the only reason the ghost of D.B. Cooper is not haunting the Friendly Skies. Or something like that. I wasn't paying much attention.
Belt and shoes off, pockets empty, scrotum tightening in anticipation of the feel-up that was in my very near future, I placed my baggage on the conveyor belt and walked toward the millimeter wave scanner, with no intention of going through it.
When it was my turn, all I said was, "No, thank you."
The extremely bored young kid asked, "You prefer a pat-down?"
"I do to that thing, yes."
Based on many cases I have read about, I figured the bored young kid would come to life and make a scene by yelling, "Opt out! Opt out!" as he called for backup. But he didn't do anything like that.
Here is what he did: About as quietly as he would have said, "Dude, check out the hottie at ten o'clock," and with the non-inflection of the terminally bored, he said, "Male assist." He got no response, which was not a surprise because I'm pretty sure no one heard him but me. He said it again a few seconds later, with no more volume or sense of urgency than the first time.
Male escort is more like it, I was thinking.
I was anticipating someone like Charon, the ferryman of Hades, but instead the guy who showed up was quite polite. He really was. He picked up all my baggage and, without stealing anything at all, carried it to where we would have our mandated man date.
I did not tip him for this.
He asked me, "Would you like a private screening room?"
I did not ask if there was an up-charge for that. All I said was, "No, thank you. Let's do this in public."
"Are you familiar with the full-body pat-down?"
"No, but I am familiar with that thing," indicating the x-ray naked scanner that the other human cattle were being herded through. "That's why I chose this."
He said, "Okay, I'm going to pat down your entire body, using the back of my hand in private areas." He was wearing blue gloves. And I don't think he actually used the word "private." I don't remember for sure, but that's what he was getting at.
Then he asked: "Do you have any sensitive areas?"
And I answered: "My body," followed by, "And I do not consent to this. I am allowing it under duress. It is in violation of my Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. But today is your lucky day. I love my dad more than I hate this process, and I have to get to Portland to see him. So there it is."
Great. Here we go.
Several months ago I interviewed a guy who was sexually molested by a TSA screener. As in, the screener reached into the poor guy's underwear and touched his genitals. The beans and the wiener. More than once. Then there's the former Miss USA who was reduced to tears by the molestation she received at the hands of a TSA pervert who touched her genitals four times.
Why do you think I was afraid to treat them with the respect they deserved?
But when Mr. Friendly TSA Screener did his thing, it was no big deal at all. No touching of private parts, no hands under the waistband, nothing grossly offensive, and it was over in about half a minute.
Not that I think that this not-so-full-body pat-down is acceptable. It's not. But it sure beats a full-on groping.
But I wasn't done yet. Next, he tested his gloves for explosives residue. I knew, of course, that an accurate reading would come up negative. But what if it wasn't accurate? False positives are not exactly unheard of, and I would certainly miss my plane if he got one this time.
Ah, but he didn't. And the pat-down, eventful for its uneventfulness, was over.