In Praise of the TSA

As a frequent flyer, I say “hooray for the TSA”!

They are vilified almost daily in the press, treated indignantly by irritated and impatient travelers, and under appreciated by nearly all.

I fly very often, and am extremely impressed with the professionalism I experience when I deal with TSA officers at airports.  They are serious, thorough, efficient, and calm in the face of waves of anxious travelers.

I am at the same time very disappointed in many travelers.  Somehow they think the TSA agents should divine which people are threats and which are not.  “I know I’m not a terrorist, so why are they searching me?”   Well, the problem is THEY don’t know you aren’t a terrorist.  Here are some other things they don’t know:  They don’t know whether you surgically placed a bomb in the child that is asleep in your arms, they don’t know if a bomb was placed under your wheelchair surreptitiously, they don’t know if a gun was slipped into an elderly woman’s purse when she put it down during check-in, and they don’t know if your teenage son is a fan of the Columbine killers.  And so they check everyone, for everything, to be sure.

When I listen to Fox News or talk radio lambasting the TSA with inflammatory stories, I have one primary thought:  Are these ignorant reports going to cause enough pressure on the TSA that they will reduce their thoroughness?  I hope not.

My suggestion to travelers is to look at the TSA in a different way than they might have previously.  Look at them as a group of professionals who must face a highly emotional traveling public for 8 hours a day 5 days a week, who have a gigantic responsibility on their shoulders to ensure flight safety, and as a group of human beings just like ourselves who are trying to do the job they are chartered to do.  Be patient and understanding with them.

My statement to them, even after they have singled me out for a detailed search, is always “thank you for keeping us safe”.

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