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TSA Does Me a Solid

by Everyday Junglist about a month ago in travel advice
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Giving Credit and Thanks to a Changed Agency

Image by Dominic Wunderlich from Pixabay

It can't just be me that has noticed a big change in the behaviors and attitudes of employees of the Transportation Security Agency over the past couple of years. Beginning around the same time as the pandemic the demeanor of the rank and file TSA worker has done a seeming 180 degree turn. The scouring, angry, and aggressive, or cold and emotionless robots have mostly been replaced by warm, smiling, and even joking and laughing human beings. Of course I am generalizing and I am sure the change is not universal but for someone who traveled a lot pre pandemic, during pandemic, and now post (yeah, right) pandemic the change is noticeable and very welcome. Also, important to note that my viewpoint is no doubt influenced and biased by my ongoing and regular interactions with US customs and border patrol at the US Mexico border. Those employees, stuck with one of the toughest and most thankless jobs in government, are some of the most unpleasant, unhappy, angry, impolite, and frustrating persons you will ever meet. In comparison, just about anyone would look good. That said, I still think the change in TSA is real and I have heard similar comments from colleagues who also fly regularly. Where the change has come from and why now remains a mystery, but my own hypothesis relates to the impact of the pandemic on the traveling public and a realization that their own jobs were in serious jeopardy if confidence in the safety of air travel was not restored. Moreover, air travel needed to become less stressful overall if they had hope of regaining all the customers lost over the course of the pandemic.

No matter the cause the change is great to see and long overdue and this morning in Nashville I had another pleasant experience going through security (can't believe I just typed those words). First, to see anyone smiling and even joking and laughing some at 3:45am was a bit unusual, to realize it was TSA employees was striking, but not totally out of character from what I had seen at other airports of late. Don't get me wrong they were clearly doing their jobs and doing them effectively from what I could tell, but they seemed like they were genuinely having fun doing it. It put a smile on my face at least, which is pretty darn hard to do at that time of day, especially when running on only about 2 hours of sleep. I had left my hotel very near the airport around 3:30am. The night before I had checked the weather at my destination city and vaguely recalled that it was going to be unusually cold and so I pulled a long sleeve shirt out of my bag just in case, tied it around my waist, and off I went. At security I pulled the shirt and put it in a tray on the belt as I went through the standard (TSA precheck modified) procedure. I was running on autopilot and had only a minimal awareness of where I was or what I was doing. Fortunately the line was short, not too surprising given the time of day, and I was quickly through and on my way to the gate but, unbeknownst to me, sans long sleeve grey shirt.

Usually that would have been the end of the story and I would have flown all the way to my destination none the wiser. I was so darn tired and frankly out of it I could barely remember packing my bags let alone the shirt I had pulled out last minute and tied around my waist. At some point in the not to distant future I surely would have gone looking for it, complained bitterly about my penchant for losing shit like that, and then continued on with my life wondering if I would ever see it again. I probably would have whined every few months about how much I missed that shirt, lamented that I still had no idea whatever happened to it, and hoping that I might miraculously find it. As months turned to years slowly hope would be lost until eventually I threw in the towel and conceded I would never see it again. At least a few more times in my life I would have recalled the shirt, and wondered whatever happened to it. I may even have told the story of the missing shirt to my wife, who would have nodded pleasantly as she pretended to listen, but really could give two shits about it, questioning yet again why she married this idiot who could not even keep track of a stupid shirt that wasn't really that nice in any case. That is the sad shirtless future that could have been. Fortunately, the future is much brighter for both myself and the shirt in question, since I did in fact get it back thanks to a very friendly TSA agent who took the time to schlep it all the way down to the gate where I sat totally oblivious to the coming doom of my grey shirtless future. That horrific and sad fate was avoided thanks to the TSA. My new favorite US government agency. Sorry USDA-ARS you knew you could not hold that top spot forever. lol!

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About the author

Everyday Junglist

Practicing mage of the natural sciences (Ph.D. micro/molecular biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday Junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, No tie shoelace user, Humorist, Argan oil aficionado.

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