30 Sep 2008
X-Ray Messages for the TSA

While I don’t think it’s a good idea to send messages to the TSA via metal plates in your luggage [MAKE Magazine], that’s not really what this post is about. Rather, it’s the reactions to the screening process itself, exemplified by the comments on the Make post. As perception of similarity is split in an interesting way, so is the perception of the screening process.

I’m not quite sure how to characterize the two views, but roughly they are
* submit to the rules, it’s easy to comply, otherwise you’re a pain in the ass for everyone else
* how dare you subject me to these useless, asinine security theater contortions

As I’ve stated elsewhere, “Ultimately, if you are allowed to travel at all, it will be in a pod, naked and sedated.” After all, that would be much more effective than the current efforts to “screen” passengers.

I’ve selected some quotes from the comments; go to the post itself to get the full effect.

First, to set the scene, someone relates their experience:

Last week I had to take off my shoes, put those in a plastic tray. Unzip my laptop bag, take out my computer, put it in a separate plastic tray, zip up my computer bag. Unzip my suitcase, take out my one-quart zip-lock baggie with hair gel, rezip my suitcase, put the baggie in the tray with my shoes. Take off my watch, put it and my cell phone and foil-wrapped LifeSavers mints in the little plastic bowl. Walk through the scanner holding my boarding pass, set off the alarm, go back out, take off my belt and put it in the plastic tray with my shoes, and go through the scanner again. Next, wait in line for my various bags and plastic trays and bowl to emerge from the conveyer belt. Unzip my computer bag, stuff the laptop inside, zip it back up. Unzip my suitcase, stuff the zip-lock baggie back in, zip it back up. Grab my cell, mints, watch, and stuff them all back in my pocket. Hop on one foot at a time putting my loafers back on. Put my belt back on so my pants don’t fall down.

An impatient traveller responds with “just STFU and wait in line”.

An anonymous DHS employee suggests

The best way to deal with this is to THINK. Whether or not they use it, every human reading this was issued a brain at the factory. If you have a chance to plan ahead with what you’re taking on the plane, pack in your checked baggage EVERYTHING that would cause you an issue with carry-on baggage. Do you REALLY need that roll of Life-Savers on the plane? Will you just DIE if you have that cellphone car-cord in your checked suitcase instead of with your laptop?

On the subject of laptops: yes, you have to take them out of the bag. Is that REALLY such a problem? If it is, then take your whiny butt to a store that sells one of the new “TSA Approved” bags that unzips to fold the computer out into a separate scan zone. Your wallet will cheerfully suffer the few dollars in the interest of getting your precious lappy through the nasty screeners without it having to be exposed to that nasty airport air.

Get over yourselves, people. The easiest thing to do is to make everyone’s experience as quick as possible. Just because YOU have an issue with the screening, doesn’t mean that anyone else BEHIOND your whiny butt wants to wait for your petty tantrum.

Finish the screening and GET OUT OF THE WAY.

To which someone responds “‘Is that REALLY such a problem?’ Yes it is. How dare you even ask that question? How dare you defend these asinine policies?”.

Later someone says

Awww… poor baby!

If you can’t show up at the airport with your stuff already in a plastic ziplock bag (or check luggage), and can’t empty your pockets real quick into the zipper pocket of your carryon laptop bag, and remove your laptop from the sleeve, plus take off your shoes, and unless you have a huge belt buckle your belt can stay on most of the time… if you can’t do that in under… I don’t know, 15 minutes, maybe you are retarded.

provoking the response

Thanks Anonymous! You have proven to us you can jump through hoops! Congratulations, you are now a dog!

Seriously though, nobody is debating that these measures are simply just a burden too heavy for the common traveler. If there was even a tiny little bit of all rules since 9/11 that actually wasn’t security theater and made the ride safer, well, a lot less people would be complaining.

And of course there’s the obligatory “they aren’t making you fly” response

It’s not like the TSA is stopping your car or coming to your home.

No one is forcing you to fly. You have other methods of travel that do not subject you to what the TSA does, whether or not you think it’s just theatrics.

You know the rules before you hit the airport. You still have the choice of going or not. If you go and know the rules beforehand, you lose the right to complain.

h/t: Schneier, Talk to the TSA
image: MAKE Blog

Category: Life-Society
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