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(Un)Common Knowledge About TSA

Dedicated to (T)hose (S)eeking (A)nswers

By Kat MayKnowPublished 3 years ago 5 min read
Please note: Some things are required to be edited.

We’ve all heard the slang that pokes fun at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). What are some of your favorites?

Thousands Standing Around?

Taking Stuff Away?

Tearing Suitcases Apart?

Here is one of my favorites I found. This was thought up by an actual TSA Screening Manager, who thought to cleverly include the Department of Homeland Security in the acronym:

Deplorable Harassment of Selectees, Treatment Simply Abusive

Any number of standard Google searches will provide you with hours of entertainment at the TSA’s expense. There are entire Facebook pages dedicated solely to provoking public humiliation towards these people and the job that they do.

My question is, do you even know what it is that they do? Or are you making assumptions based on media coverage at the airport during a crowded travel time? Or perhaps you’re listening to the mad rant of Jane Doe-Celebrity who had her self-entitlement put to the test?

Let’s start with one of the oldest acronym slangs, Thousands Standing Around. Anyone know why or where this came from? My guess is some aggravated traveler who didn’t bother to listen to the suggested “two hours prior” suggestion saw some uniformed individuals standing still or off to the side and Travis The-Traveler was pissed off that they weren’t rushing to open another lane just so he wouldn't have to pay the consequences of his poor timing that morning.

What Travis The-Traveler didn’t know is that those Officers “standing” around were probably already three steps ahead of him and had already made a complete assessment of his character, his intentions, and his mood, simply by watching his behavior the moment he got in line. And furthermore, all Travis The-Traveler did was put himself in a much more sour frame of mind than what was necessary (if being a sourpuss is ever actually necessary). No amount of grumbling or insults was going to deter a Federal Officer of the government from protecting him nor would it make them think, “Wow, this guy is really angry and rude. I better do what I can to reward that.”

What the traveling public does not understand is that there are details that contain a lot of sensitive security information that Officers are not allowed to talk about. They are sworn to secrecy, even after they leave the agency. They do this with the safety of the American people in mind as they raise their right hand and repeat after Manager Mary. They’ve had weeks and weeks of on-the-job training, so they are fully aware of the typical behavior that a Traveling Travis fellow might exhibit. And yet, they still swear in... to keep Travis safe.

Yes, it’s true that in the beginning of TSA, there was a lot of trial and error trying to figure out how to handle this threat and that threat. Who would be certified to do what? Who was coming on board from the private sector of screening that was already in place? There was a lot of bumbling and scrambling and TSA over-hired in a colossal way. So there were quite a few Officers who would rotate to “bin pusher” or “cart loader” or some other mundane task position. To the outside looking in, it would appear as though thousands were standing around. In addition, in the beginning of TSA, emotions were still very raw over our great loss of 9-11. So there were more than enough people willing to stand in line for a job to help protect the country from that ever happening again.

Another piece of uncommon knowledge is this: TSA does not TAKE anything. Each and every passenger (with the exception of those that have broken the law) is given choices and options for their item that cannot go through the checkpoint. Travelers are just so wrapped up in this idea of “my way or the highway” that they refuse to see the reality of the situation. The reality is they did not do their research. Rules were put in place by not only the US government (TSA), but also the FFA, and the airlines themselves. When a passenger chooses to not educate themselves on the latest policies and procedures, it’s the job of the checkpoint Officers to make sure those safety guidelines are followed. Getting angry, cursing, and screaming for the manager is not going to make any one of them bend a rule that could potentially bring a plane down.

The average passenger gets offended that someone could think they would possibly do anyone any harm while traveling 30,000 feet in the air. But, unfortunately, the Officers do not have that luxury. They are given information that, once again, falls under Sensitive Security Information, and with that knowledge and training, are 100% confident in their decision to not break the rules for the passenger trying to get through with the giant bottle of shampoo, or grandpa’s pocket knife, or the tub of peanut butter, etc.

Now, moving along to the suitcases being torn apart. It is true that during a rush, items may be shuffled around if your bag was selected for screening. As adult with high functioning OCD, this is infuriating, but in most cases just a simple case of oversight. Having said that, TSA does offer a customer service number that you can call if anything gets damaged. If you suspect malicious behavior, you best believe that someone is reviewing one of the hundreds of cameras that are recording every detail of that bag search. All you have to do is request that a manager review the security camera footage from that bag check. If procedures were followed, you will have to direct your complaint to the airline. If procedures were not followed, believe me when I tell you there will be some sort of consequence for conduct unbecoming of an Officer.

I am fully aware that since its creation, TSA has seen its fair share of shady individuals who managed to slip in under the radar and background check. All agencies have bad apples. All companies have bad apples. All corporations have some sort of corruption. The only difference here is that TSA is a hot spot when it comes to the media, so the slightest hiccup within the administration and the whole world knows about it on the 5 o’clock news that same evening.

The irony here is that 99% of the problems between TSA and the traveling public are due to a lack of research prior to the departure date. So allow me to make some uncommon knowledge a bit more knowledgeable for you…

• If you could defend yourself against an attacker with the item in question, chances are it’s not allowed to go on an airplane with you.

• If you can smear it, spread it, spray it, or splash it and it is over 100ml (3.4oz), you need to check it in with your checked luggage that goes beneath the plane. The only exception to this rule is medical necessity.

• If the roles were reversed, and you were made to feel awful just for trying to help someone feel safe, chances are the words you’re planning on saying are hurtful and should just be kept to yourself.

We are all just trying to do our best to fly home, to fly back to college, to fly to that potential million-dollar sale, to keep people safe, to ensure fluidity through an airport, to protect our fellow human beings, to hand out uncommon knowledge in an online writing contest.


About the Creator

Kat MayKnow

I share what I know. How much do I know? Who knows? I may know. You just never know. Ya know?

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    Kat MayKnowWritten by Kat MayKnow

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