A Tsa Rant...

Here’s my little story about the TSA, and why we’re still doomed.
Right before the deadline for all screeners to be federal employees, the TSA came to town, lookin for a bit of help. I, being a former Federal employee, in a law enforcement capacity no less, as well as being a trained Paramedic, Firefighter, Arson Investigator, and all around decent chap, decided to check out the opportunities offered in this brand new red tape factory.

I’ve discovered one thing about the Federal Government, they only do things big. When they fuck up, they do it right, and they don’t stop fucking up until they’ve found a new, and better, more expensive way to fuck up. The TSA, despite it’s youth, is no exception.

When I get to the testing site, there are wackenhut security guards (not TSA employees, mind you, but private, civilian security guards) taking peoples’ phones, pagers, badges (a lot of cops and firemen showed up) and other assorted items before checking them in. Once you got in though, hoo boy…spit and polish all the way. Official looking men and women, in official looking clothing, mostly in muted shades of brown, and the obligatory 50 something black woman with the wild hairdo and the boisterous voice, herding me and my fellow contestants alphabetically into groups of chairs.

Whence seated, we were given a 23.7 minute monotone lecture about the days’ activities, and how we would be taken into custody, stripped naked, beaten, publicly berated, not to mention thouroughly audited by the IRS, for drifting outside the parameters set by the TSA, regarding our behaviour. When they were satisfied that we were sufficiently toeing the line, we were given our schedules, and waited in our groups to be called.

Backstory; the best, and most wild-eyed conversations took place in those chairs, suffice it to say, that there are people mentally unable to tie their own shoes, rooting through your bags at the airport. Those people are now getting a check from the government to do so. There were some folks I talked to that were candidates for the laughing academy easily five years before the TSA, and these maniacs are now fingering your underwear and getting touchy-feely with your t-shirts.

As I waited and waited, I began to feel a sense of dread, a sense that something was about to go horribly wrong. Call it what you will, but something was amiss. Sure enough, the computers that they were using to administer the tests to the future of the safety of air travel, had not only gone down, but had done so in such a catastrophic manner, that the days’ events would be postponed until the following day. As we began to reverse the entry process, and the majority of the miscreants and malcontents and the rest of us decent chaps and chapettes made our way to the exit, someone from the back of the faclity screamed something unintelligible to the human ear. Mr. Brown (or so i called him) translated for us humans, and said aloud “It’s FIXED, EVERY BODY GET BACK IN HERE.” A collective groan erupted above the group of the weary, the downtrodden, and the insane. Back we go. Back. Though the phalanx of dimwitted Wackenhut guards. Back. Through the malfunctioning metal detectors. Back. To the cadre of muted brown suits and sensible shoes.

We somehow made it through the next seven hours, the lot of us, but what I witnessed during that time, makes it clear to me that we are in fact doomed.

Some examples, if you will permit me…

There was one man, his hame was Bob. Bob sweated, A LOT. He had a missing pinky on his right hand. He lost it cooking at a family reunion, or so he claims. Bob is a veteran of the armed forces. Despite the fact that he claims to have never seen combat, the nervous twitch of his facial nerves every seventeen seconds, and the odd thousand yard stare belies a panic i’ve seen only in seasoned combat vets, fresh off the board into the deep end.

Then there was Tyrell. Tyrell, or ‘T’ as the three pound medallion that hung from the vehicle tow chain around his neck clearly advertised, had just gotten his GED, after a stint in Juvenile detention. The ‘thuglife’ tattoo on his right forearm, had apparently made Tyrell a shoe in for the job, or so he claimed, at least. Using his logic, the TSA would want thugs working for them, since thugs knew how ‘motherfuckers like these motherfuckers think’.

I took solace at the possibility.

Then came Darryl.

Darryl had what ever eye condition causes both eyes to look in different directions, sorta like Jillian Barbarie, only worse. I thought to myself that Darryl was just the guy for the job, I mean you can find a guy like that who can watch two directions at once, THAT my friends, is value added.

Tamika I genuinely liked. She was a tough-as-nails former army corporal, whose hitch in the army was predicated by her beating a student at her high school half to death with a road barricade.
Apparently disrespect was much more costly these days. The thing about Tamika I liked though, aside from her decidedly rubenesque frame (to which I am generally attracted) was her ability to cut through the bullshit. One glance would let you know this underpaid government functionary was not to be trifled with.

Finally, there was John. John was a middle aged man in a slightly blue cardigan sweater, glasses on a string, and unwashed brown pants. John was a truly frightening individual. He spoke softly and rapidly, often without so much as one word making any sense at all. He had at least a dozen nervous ticks I could make out without being too obvious. The worst of which was the constant drumming of the fingers on the piece of worn out cardboard kept in his pocket. The cardboard was plain, no writing, no printing, no nothing. When the drumming stopped, the caressing of the happy ball started. The happy ball was a yellow chime ball with a magic marker happy face scrawled upon it. It soothed John, that was a good thing.

The stories can go on, I’ve got several more, but the hour is late, so I’ll cut to the chase…
At the end of the day, Mr. Brown, or Number 2, as I affctionately called him, would call your name to the makeshift desk. Once at the desk, the Whoopi Goldberg clone would give you a packet of information to fill out for your return trip tomorrow, where you would be given a physical exam location, and barring failure of that, an assignment and uniforms.

John. Darryl. Tyrell and Bob got packets.

Tamika and I didn’t.

We’re doomed.