Friday, December 17, 2010

TSA Groping: A New Holiday Tradition

            “Hey, come listen to this.”

            “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” is not, and never has been, my favorite Christmas song. That said, the latest parody “Grandma Got Molested at the Airport” is terrific. I mean that in the sense that watching a tornado touch down next to your house is terrific or that spying a bear rummaging through your food at your campsite is terrific. These events inspire terror.
            I recently took a trip to England. I had a wonderful time, if you don’t count the time spent in either the Atlanta or London Heathrow airports. For some reason, security takes one look at me and decides that I am a threat. Admittedly, I do fit into an easily identifiable profile. If you are looking for the stereotypical white American female schoolteacher of a certain age, well, that would be me.

            Now I always thought that I inspired terror only in middle school students who hadn’t done their homework. Such is not the case. TSA agents at both airports singled me out for special tests designed to prove that I was not a terrorist. I was considered guilty until they were able to prove without the slightest doubt that I was innocent. It occurred to me to wonder if I’d been teaching the American Constitution incorrectly all these years.

            I had my little bottles of shampoo and tubes of toothpaste in my quart-sized zip bag. My Reeboks were off and tucked next to my jacket in the plastic tub provided. My laptop and cell phone were out and in a different plastic tub. All of these things and my carry-on suitcase went through the scanner with no problem. I walked through the metal detector without tripping any visible bells and whistles. So why was I singled out for an intense grope? Search me.

            The TSA agent in Atlanta quickly learned that my bra was not padded and that I was using a feminine protection product. Believe me, even my husband and my mother don’t want that much information about me. Unless TSA wanted to warn the flight attendants that I might be prone to mood swings at that time of the month, I really didn’t see how the information was at all useful to anyone.

            In London, the Brits do not grope you. They are way too civilized for that.  I’m wondering, though, what they’re going to do with the naked pictures of me taken with the body scanner. Do you think I’ll receive royalties if those pictures sell well on the British porn market?

            My entire family is meeting in London for Christmas. We’ll be coming from airports across the U.S. My 14 year old niece and my sons will be subjected to these indignities as part of “routine” security measures. I will not be allowed to intervene on their behalf, or I will be treated as a criminal. The song “Grandma Got Molested at the Airport” is just a little too true to be funny. Listen to it yourself. I bet you’ll think it’s terrific, too.