I’ve flown twice this month: once to my hometown in California and once to New York City, and the experiences I’ve had with the TSA have been as different as the cities I visited.
I used to joke with the TSA at DFW Airport that I must have a tumor or something, because my lower left leg always sets the damn body scanner off. But lately, my voluptuous bod seems to be pissing off more and more scanners. On my flight home from California earlier this month, a very polite and well-mannered female TSA agent asked me to step aside so that she could pat me down.
She was very polite and asked if I’d prefer a private screening. No, I answered. I never do. Maybe if they’re going to ask me to take off my bra and give me a mammogram or something, but just to pat me down? I’m made of sterner stuff than that.
“I’m going to start with your chest and arms, going in this direction,” she told me as she gestured with blue rubber gloved hands. “But I’m going to use the backs of my hands.”
I shrugged the equivalent of “Yeah, okay.” What am I going to do? Start running for my gate? Besides, if we all get to our destinations safely I honestly don’t care if she cops a feel with the backs of her hands. I’m sure it’s even less a thrill for her than for me.
She went on to pat me down everywhere, but kept stopping to explain what she was going to do…and always “but I’m going to use the backs of my hands”. Got it. After a few minutes and a good swabbing of my hands for bomby things, I was on my way to my gate. No big.
Yesterday, as I was leaving La Guardia Airport in New York City, I had the exact opposite of this experience.
As usual, my lumpy body set off the body scanners. If our lack of decent presidential candidates didn’t concern me enough, now I’m a bit worried that the TSA can’t tell the difference between a terrorist and a chubby girl like me. Why the hell do I always set off those scanners! I wasn’t even wearing Spanx, for fucks sake.
There were two female TSA agents working the security side of the body scanners. One was a regular looking lady in her mid-fifties, I’d guess. The other was an incredibly surly chick with an attitude I can only describe as something between a Jerry Springer talk show guest and an LA gang member with a rap sheet as long as my arm. She had to be at least 6 feet tall…and she could’ve easily palmed a basketball. Shit, she could have palmed a Mini Cooper.
I don’t know her name, but let’s call her Tiffany because it sounds dainty and feminine, which she was not and that shit’s just funny. I was too afraid she’d see me look at her badge, lest I end up floating in the Hudson River like in an episode of Law & Order. Visiting, delightful, warm-hearted tourist from Texas is found floating boobs-up in the river…Benson & Stabler arrive on the scene…donk donk!
Here’s now my pat down went:
Tiffany, pointing one 9 inch finger to the floor mat in front of her: “Step here.”
I step here.
Without another word, Tiffany proceeds to use her gigantic fucking meat hook hands to push and slap my shoulders and arms, then runs her frying pan sized palms down the front of my legs and then back up between my legs until BAM! Karate chop right in the vagina. The fuck?
Tiffany didn’t use the backs of her Andre the Giant hands. She just manhandled the shit out of me and punched in me in the lady bits.
I was still reeling from the violation when she turned around and yelled (I’m totally not shitting you here) at this tiny little woman in the body scanner, who was apparently not understanding the other agent who was telling her to step out.
“COME OUT! COME OUUUUUUT!!!! HEY!!!! COME OUT!”
Not. Even. Shitting you.
As I was seated on the plane, being safely jetted away from Tiffany and her beefy fingers, I realized that the TSA is rather like a visit to the gyno – except with a gyno you can change doctors if you’re not happy.
The TSA agent in California was like my beloved gyno here in Texas: soft spoken, gentle and pleasant…in spite of the task that’s been handed her. In contrast, Tiffany from NYC was like the doctor who uses a teaspoon of lube on a freezing cold speculum and just aims in the general direction of your birth canal. Pfffffffp! Good enough! NEXT!!!
I wanted to cross my legs all the way to Texas, but I was in coach.
I’m sorry, I know I’ve been talking about my vagina a lot. It’s really not that special or fantastic, but it’s the only one I have…and I really don’t want to share it with Tiffany and her man hands.
In all seriousness, though, it makes me wonder how a person like that keeps their job. Is no one watching her? Why is she allowed to be that horrible to people? Why is she so fucking angry? Maybe I’d be angry too if I had to frisk people all day long, but maybe I’d go look for another job where I didn’t have to touch vaginas all day…ya know, if that wasn’t my kind of thing.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are many of us who might choose to do something else for a living if we could. I grew up wanting to be a tap dancing astronaut writer. I am not an astronaut. I can tap dance. I’m a writer. But I didn’t achieve the trifecta career of my childhood dreams. That doesn’t mean I can run around punching people in the vagina and yelling all day.
We need to find a way to be happy with ourselves in some way. We need to find at least one spot of joy in this world…or we end up like Tiffany.
Don’t be Tiffany. That’s all I’m saying.