Thursday, August 05, 2004

I, Terrorist

I just cleared security at SFO on my way to LA, after getting my first-ever full-on TSA search.

Honestly, I didn't even realize I was getting the full monty until the guys started opening my carry-on. There were no lines at security, so I'd breezed right in to the process.

The TSA guys were courteous, professional and fast, so I didn't have a meltdown like last year at LAX. But, as loyal readers of The Wisdom will remember, I vowed to not be a sheep, to not just accept being treated like a terrorist without questioning the system.

So when the TSA guys released me, I went over to what looked like a supervisor's station to complete my duty as a non-sheep.

I asked why I might have been selected for the shakedown. Was it random or what?

The TSA boss told me - very politely - that the airlines mark certain passengers for searches. It's not random, he said, it's usually people who have one-way tickets, who have made last-minute seat changes, etc.

Hmm. I have a one-way ticket. And I changed my seat assignment a couple of hours ago.

Fair enough. Those circumstances make me a somewhat greater security risk, I suppose. I can accept that. I'd like to think that being from Saudi Arabia or having an Arabic name would also get you flagged, but somehow I doubt that.

But the main point here is that I lived up to my duty. I encountered a situation I didn't understand, and I questioned it. In this case, I got clarity. In other cases - such as complaining that not taking your shoes off is grounds for a search even though your shoes didn't set off the detector and you're not actually required to take your shoes off - raising your voice to note the absurdity of it all is the only way to push toward change.

Man, am I a good American.


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