More fun at the TSA scanner follies

I’ve been doing a lot of business travel in the last couple of weeks, (explaining my temporary absence from these pages, much to the relief of many I’m sure) and have had the chance to reacquaint myself with our old friends at the TSA. Now, as Ed and I have discussed on past trips, I seem to be one of those people who just doesn’t seem to get singled out by the airport inspectors very often. In the past I’ve been fairly comfortable with what seems to be an obvious explanation: I’m an aging white guy with gray hair who tends to dress in business casual clothes and is – let’s admit it – not exactly a Hollywood model in the looks department. Nobody is all that interested in getting their jollies by frisking me.


This stands in stark contrast to the experiences of others, such as our good friend and frequent flying politico, Liz Mair, who seems to get scanned, probed, disrobed and/or groped every time she comes within fifty miles of an airport. (For those who have met Liz, I’ll leave it to you to explain why this probably is.)

But my theory took a bit of a hit this week, albeit in a humorous fashion, when I read the account of Jeffrey Goldberg’s mother-in-law. Grab a cup of coffee and read this story for some weekend entertainment of the dark comedy variety. A small taste to get you started:

My mother-in-law was traveling home to Rhode Island from Washington Reagan airport this past Tuesday night when, passing through the TSA naked-porno machine, she triggered an alarm.

A bit of background before I continue: My mother-in-law, though youthful in outlook and an all-around very attractive person, is also 79-years-old, 4’11” if she’s lucky, and weighs about 110 pounds. She was in Washington to visit her grandchildren, and to lobby the Rhode Island congressional delegation as part of the American Library Association’s National Library Legislative Day…

She entered the machine and struck the humiliating pose one is forced to strike — hands up, as in an armed robbery — and then walked out, when she was asked by a TSA agent, in a voice loud enough for several people to hear, “Are you wearing a sanitary napkin?”

Remember, she’s 79.

My mother-in-law answered, “No. Why do you ask?”

The TSA agent responded: “Well, are you wearing anything else down there?”

Yes, “down there.”

She said no, at which point, the friend with whom she was traveling, also a not-young volunteer library advocate, came over and asked if there was a problem.

The TSA agent said, again, in full voice, “There’s an anomaly in the crotch area.”


That may not be enough to convince you that there’s still something amiss with the TSA, so as Goldberg points out, we can toss another shrimp on the barbie here with the tale of Congressman Francisco “Quico” Canseco. It involves “aggressive moves toward the crotch” and the phrase, “Hey, I’m the guy who was assaulted.” So you know it’s a winner.

Enjoy your weekend, folks. I’ll be flying again in two weeks. Maybe this time I’ll try wearing something more provocative so I can research all of this “fun” that everyone else is having.

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