I have become a nervous passenger. While I've never been particularly comfortable with the flying experience, I have noticed that my anxiety level increases during the days leading up to another trip. I'm not anxious about being on a plane; I am nervous about dealing with TSA. (Click here to see why.)
I have written about my frustrations with TSA in the past. I have had both good and nightmarish interactions with agents since I became an amputee. Since I never know what to expect, I have learned to prepare myself for the worst.
I was informed last week, as I prepared to fly out of Dulles to Atlanta, that the pat down procedures have changed. Hearing that procedures have "changed" puts me on notice. This is the same jargon that was utilized by thug agents in the past. Immediately my pulse began to rise.
Keeping a smile on my face, I tried to be as polite as possible with the TSA agent. When I was informed that the pat down would be "thorough," I did not know what to expect. At the risk of sounding crass, this agent felt more of my body than Scott ever did after we had been dating for six weeks! Calling the screening a "pat down" is not an apt description. Might I suggest that they simply say, "I am now going to feel you up."
I was offered a private screening which I declined. (After experiencing the new "thorough" pat down in a public setting, I am a little frightened about what might happen to me without a terminal full of witnesses.) I always decline the private room. I feel that my fellow passengers deserve to see their transportation security taxes in action!
Having experienced the "thorough pat down" procedures on my flight to Atlanta, I was prepared for my molestation on my return flight. The TSA agent again explained the new procedure and proceeded to cop the necessary feels. I was then taken for my Cast Scope X-Rays. I hate it when TSA has a new toy!
After standing in a variety of positions for the necessary six x-rays, I was hopeful another TSA screening would come to an end. Unfortunately the agents were not able to interpret my images. I was asked to decipher the x-ray images for them!
I am not against the extra screening procedures for amputees. I have always been kind and respectful. I am compliant when the Cast Scope machine is utilized although I am annoyed by the doses of radiation to which I am subjected versus the amount endured by my fellow passengers. Truth be told, I am perhaps one of the most easy going amputees to pass through airport security.
I become frustrated and angry when, after being subjected to six doses of "safe" radiation, I am required to interpret the images. Yes, I know what the images are showing. Looking at the images, I think that my prosthetic components are easy to comprehend.
Perhaps it is more important that the individuals with the badges, the people placed in charge of keeping us safe on the plane, know what they are seeing! Does it seem wise to ask the passenger and then to rely upon their answers to determine safety? By demonstrating that the agents are unable to decipher the images from their own equipment, it became clear that these individuals are woefully under trained.
I am making a stand and I encourage my fellow amputees to stand with me. I am no longer interpreting my own Cast Scope images. TSA: Take the pictures if you must, but do not rely upon me to educate you about what you are seeing. Please TSA, I am imploring you to show the amputee community some respect by learning to utilize your own instruments.