But don't tell mysterious blogger Dark Damian, who just posted "An Open Letter to the TSA Agents at DIA." The self-described "black intelligentleman" lays out a detailed rant on his recent experience dealing with security at the airport.
Exceptionally cathartic, I must say:
I just wanted to drop you a line about the marvelous service I witnessed while traveling through the lovely and heavily trafficked Denver International Airport on the weekend of June 26th. Truly, I've never seen such a display of human kindness, emotional restraint, empathy, rational thought, courage, discipline, or competence in all my airborne travels since the tragic events of 9/11. You fine government employees working at DIA should stand tall, chin high, and chest out.
Then you should kick each other square in the ass. Repeatedly.
And that's not all Dark Damian has to say -- not even close. He continues:
Honestly, we travelers know that your job is tough, low-paying, and often pretty thankless, since the closest thing to a terrorist you've probably seen is a drunk brotha yelling at his toddler named J'haad to stop pulling on the ropes. We completely understand that you look at all of us as potential day-breakers, and think we look at you like the human speed bumps preventing us from getting to the Sbarro at Gate A32 in a timely fashion. And, well, we DO look at you like that, so your paranoia is founded in truth there, Bucko. We know that you get an endless stream of crap and agita from weary and/or stupid travelers who still think it's acceptable to pack swords, firearms, live snakes, aerosols, bows and arrows, throwing stars, flares, dynamite, spray paint, or snow globes (now, I have a bone to pick with this last one, 'cause I really did have a snow globe, and you let me right through the line even though it's clearly listed on your list of prohibited items. I would've been pissed to the highest of pisstivity if you had confiscated it, TSA, but still...do your jobs, people) drive you insane on a daily -- nay, hourly basis, but do you have to paint us all with that broad brush of scorn? To wit:
Exhibit A: The Phantom Line
As a group of Frontier Airline passengers made our way towards the screening area, we all noticed that there was a line of people to the far right, waiting to be screened by the TSA agent at the top of the line; an immobile moving sidewalk in the middle; and an empty area to the left where a 2nd TSA agent sat, calling people over from the far right line. Being wise and enterprising folk, we began a line leading right up to TSA 2 so that (a) the lines would be shorter, overall, and (b) there could be a line right in front of ol' T2 there. So we set up shop in front of him, patiently waiting to be called up to present our ID and boarding pass, but...nothing. He didn't even so much as look at us. After about 10 minutes, there were about 25 people in our new line, and an additional 25 or so in the original line. At that point, TSA 1 turned to TSA 2 and said "Why are all those people standing over there in front of you?"
TSA2: "Who, them? I have no idea. The line is over there."
TSA1: "I know! Are they airport employees or VIPs?"
TSA2 (to us): "Are any of you employees of DIA or VIPs?"
We all looked around, discovering that we were just regular folk.
TSA2 (to TSA1): "Nope, looks like a bunch of people in the wrong damn place to me."
TSA1 : "Tell them to move back over here and quit acting like VIPs!"
TSA, there was no sign stating that we were in a VIP/employee line. In fact, there were no signs at all, a fact hammered home hard and loud by an irate passenger, irate because we 25 misguided folk then had to go to the end of the OTHER line, meaning we were way, way farther back than we had to be, if you had simply told us that we were in the wrong line in the first place. Asshats.
Exhibit B: The Angry Agents
As I mentioned earlier, I get that many people who fly from point A to point B are cripplingly stupid, some on the borderline of being criminally dumb and mortally ignorant. Be that as it may, it may behoove you to not act like rabid howler monkeys high on acid and peanut M&Ms to everyone who passes through your metal-detecting gates. A lot of us plan ahead; for example, I had all my toiletries in see-through bottles, gathered in a ziploc bag for your convenience. However, that wasn't good enough, TSA of DIA. Oh, no it was not.
You see, I had my stuff in a gallon sized bag, but you needed a quart sized bag. As I contemplated whether to toss away my precious $1.00 shampoo and Axe spray, one of your fine agents came blazing through the metal detector, grasping someone's poorly packed items that had the misfortune of going through the x-ray machine. He looked at us like we had just slapped his mama, screaming the following (and I'll paraphrase): "LISTEN, PEOPLE! IF YOU PACK YOUR THINGS LIKE THIS, YOU'LL JUST HOLD UP THE LINE AND CAUSE PEOPLE LIKE ME TO THROW IT AWAY, WASTING OUR TIME AND YOURS! CHECK YOUR BELONGINGS, AND BE SMART ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE PACKING! THANK YOU!"
And then he slammed the woe-begotten bag of someone's stuff into the trashcan with a crash. This activity caused me to raise my right eyebrow in surprise. I was about 4 people back from the belt, and I was now about 75% sure that I was going to throw away my bag o' crap. That 75% got pushed to 100% when 1 minute later, the same TSAlien came out again with a different bag of someone's stuff, making pretty much the exact same speech, only this time Mr. Happy slammed the bag HARD into the trash can, so hard that a lonely bottle of lotion flew back up and out of the can and landed in the x-ray bin that a lady was filling with their things. Her confusion became my determination...to not have my items mistreated by that dude. I can slam my own stuff, thank you very much, and that's precisely what I did.
Not to be outdone, another wonderful TSAgent dealt with an elderly woman in a wheelchair. Ordinarily, a person in a wheelchair would be pulled to the side and wanded down away from the metal detectors to help the line keep moving, and to account for all the metal in the chair itself. Oh no, not in Terminal A of DIA on THAT day. No, Mr. TSAgent wheeled the lady (who had to be about 85) up to the metal detector...and made her get up and walk through it! He had no mercy, no compassion...he stood there impassively as this poor old lady struggled to get up, struggled to take the 3 or 4 steps needed to pass through the detector, and then struggled to sit down again. My bad - he did at least offer her a hand when it was time to sit down again. Nice chap, him. The person she was with was flabbergasted. And incidentally, he simply pushed the wheelchair through the detector, lights and horns a-blazin', and never even so much as looked at it. In other words, the chair made entirely of metal was absolutely no threat whatsoever, yet the 85 year old woman was. This is brilliance in action.
In closing, I just want to point out that while TSA folks are charged with ensuring the safety of all passengers and crew in the skies, there's no need to fall to douchebaggery and general assholery to perform that job.
Simple incompetence will do nicely, thank you.
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