On June 7th I flew out of Houston Hobby Airport with my 9 year old and 21 month old sons. The anxiety I felt for the weeks leading up to the trip
weighed heavily on my stomach. I had spent way too much time on ATS, You tube, and the internet in general watching videos and reading horror stories
of people's experiences.
So at Hobby airport there was a really long line, but since I had a stroller and little ones I was able to go to the head of the line. That's when I
witnessed firsthand, the behemoth scanning machines and the people being herded into them. It was like being in a stockyard. There was basically a
fork with one TSA agent ushering people into the scanners and another one signaling people to walk through the regular metal detector. I didn't see
any logic behind who was chosen for which security measure. I did know that I, nor my sons, were going through those scanner machines. Luckily, when
it was our turn to go the agent herding into the scanner was distracted by an elderly man that was moving very slowly. I seized that opportunity, made
eye contact with the agent at the metal detector and pushed my 9 year old in that direction. Phew, we made it through Houston without the radiation
We landed in Norfolk and had a fine vacation visiting my sister-in-law. My brother is a Chief Petty Officer for the U.S. Navy and is on his third tour
of Afghanistan. I thought it'd be nice to go visit his wife and stepson while he is gone. Virginia Beach is absolutely beautiful! Nothing like our
muddy water beaches of the Gulf. While there we took advantage of our close proximity and drove to D.C. for two days. I wanted my 9 year old son to
see some real history, although he was not as impressed with seeing George Washington's and Abraham Lincoln's signatures as I was.
Monday, June 13th, was time to fly back home. I wasn't nervous at all about the security checkpoint. The Norfolk airport is tiny compared to Hobby,
and isn't outfitted with any scanners. That day I was wearing a loose fitting t-shirt, capris, and sandals.
My 9 year old and 21 month old made it through the metal detector with no problems. I, on the other hand, alerted. I had some change in my pocket that
I forgot about, so I emptied that out and went through again. I alerted again. The agent asked me if I had a belt on and I showed her I didn't. This
was all happening fairly quickly, remember I have a 21 month old that is not strapped into his stroller!
The agent told me that I was alerting on my lower left side of my body and I would need to have a pat down. The only thing I could think to say at
that time was "do you have a wand instead?" She told me no, they don't use wands anymore.
That's when I started tearing up and said "fine." She asked me if I wanted to go to a private area and I told her "no."
She asked me why I was alerting on my lower left side. I replied and told her that I have a plate and screws in my left ankle and a titanium rod in my
left tib/fib. She was like "oh." She could clearly see the scars. Right there the screening could have stopped.
Instead it proceeded on and she told me what she was going to be doing. By now the tears were flowing. They were just a steady stream of anger and
The agent told me that once she began the pat down my children could not come into contact with me or else they too would need a pat down. That really
got my tears going! How was I supposed to keep my toddler from touching me?
Once again the agent asked if I wanted to go to a private area. I replied "no, let them all see." She just looked at me. I could tell she was
uncomfortable with my crying and with what she was doing.
She started her pat down going up and down both of my arms. It was about that time that my 21 month old broke away from his big brother and came to
stand by me. He reached out his little hand and grabbed my finger.
The agent backed away and called out for her supervisor, told him that "the child had come into contact."
She looked at me and said "he will need a pat down too."
(The things that were going through my mind!!! I could have screamed at this woman, obscenities, and hateful names!!!!!)
I said "okay." And the tears kept right on flowing. My poor 9 year old was sitting off to the side and I can only imagine what he must have been
thinking watching this go down.
So I was now free to touch my child, if the need arose, and the agent continued her pat down, going around my breasts and waist. I was really
distracted with watching my little one though, so this part went by rather quickly.
The little booger didn't stand by my side for long. Before I knew it he was racing towards the entrance of security. I ran him down and proceeded to
hold him for the duration of my pat down, which was the lovely patting of the legs and crotch.
It really isn't patting, it's more of a sliding of the hands.
As she finished up with me she said she would need to check my son. I said "fine." And kept on crying. Not a sobbing, hysterical, my boyfriend just
broke up with me crying, just a steady stream of my dignity, and so called freedom as an American citizen, being stripped away from me.
Thankfully, she did a quick version of the pat down on my son. He was wiggly, kept pulled away from her, all while I was holding him. It was not an
easy task, and I'm glad. There was no way I was going to hold him out for her and make it any easier.
After that was over I was moved to the side to go through my bags. Stupid me, I packed the baby powder in the backpack instead of the suitcase. The
agent that went through our bags handed my 9 year old a sticker badge that said TSA on it. I looked down and said "never." He got the idea. As we
walked away from security I saw him crumble up that sticker and throw it away.
So, no video, just my story. I felt bad for the agent, she was just doing her job, and she is lucky to have a job. I never once smarted off to her,
nor anyone else. It was just an unfortunate incident, and I did pay to go on the airplane.
Maybe they should upgrade their detectors. My surgical hardware never sets off others that I have been through.
I have talked to family members, and others, about the TSA and their pat downs and scanners. For the most part the feedback I get is "if it makes it
safer to fly, than it is okay by me." The only logical response I got was from a person that said the only reason the scanners are in there is
because the manufacturers back politicians, and the politicians back them, so win-win for them, and their pockets all get fatter.
That was interesting to me and led me to this 2010 article on
TSA’s other body-scanner
contractor is Rapiscan Systems Inc. In 2009, the company was awarded an agreement that could be worth up to $173 million. And like L-3, Rapiscan has a
notable K Street presence.
Rapiscan attracted attention earlier this year when it was revealed that former Homeland Security Secretary
Michael Chertoff, a vocal proponent of body scanners, had consulted for the company. Peter Kant, Rapsican’s executive vice president, said Chertoff
was no longer working for the company.
Texas did go to bat for its citizens and tried to battle the TSA and Federal Government with
Relating to prosecution and punishment for the offense of official oppression by the intrusive touching of persons seeking access to public
buildings and transportation; providing penalties.
It passed the Texas House, unanimously, but unfortunately did not pass the Senate. Of course, we were threatened by the Department of Justice with a
"If HR [sic] 1937 were enacted, the federal government would likely seek an emergency stay of the statute," the letter read, on U.S. Department of
Justice, Western District of Texas, stationery. "Unless or until such a stay were granted, TSA would likely be required to cancel any flight or series
of flights for which it could not ensure the safety of passengers and crew. "We urge that you consider the ramifications of this bill before casting
your vote," the letter concluded.
Unfortunately, I don't foresee that security measures against the public will ease. I have heard rumors of body scanners at sporting events and
shopping malls. I, for one, do not feel any safer and find it a shame that this will be the the norm for my children. They are being conditioned now,
and in twenty years it will be no big deal. That's sad.
edit on 22-6-2011 by christine76 because: grammar
edit on 22-6-2011
by christine76 because: stupid grammar again..