Before I jump into this story, I want to make it clear that I hold the utmost disdain for the TSA. It’s an annoying governmental process that not only uses (and wastes) our tax dollars but does nothing more than some smoke and mirror tricks to fake security in an area where the likelihood of another attack akin to 9/11 is less likely than another school shooting.
I could write an entire column – heck, I could write an entire newspaper – about why the TSA is a waste of money, but I’ll just leave you with a study that I think everyone should read up on.
Three years ago, the Department of Homeland Security pretended to be terrorists that were attempting to smuggle guns and bombs onto planes 70 different times. Of those 70 attempts, the TSA stopped them three times.
Three times. That’s 67 terrorist attacks the TSA failed to stop.
Now, we’ll probably never see 67 terrorist attacks via planes in America ever happen, but it won’t be because of the TSA.
And look, I get it. People were quite scared to go on a plane after 9/11 and for good reason. That day was a dark day in history. But, in their concern to prevent another terrorist attack, the government should create a security force for air travel actually capable of stopping threats.
Oh, and less prejudice would be great too.
A few weeks ago, I flew to San Francisco to cover another big release in the video game industry. It was great and San Francisco and the greater California is awesome, but that’s not what this column is about.
Before my incredible work trip to San Francisco, I had to endure the most obnoxious display of theatrics I’d ever been a part of thanks to the TSA.
I took off my shoes, my belt, my jacket, my bag and opened up all of my electronics as usual. I walked through the strange x-ray machine that reveals way too much to the person looking at the nearby screen – seriously, look into how much of your body this machine reveals.
After getting the greenlight, I walked through only to be stopped by one last TSA agent.
He grabbed my arm and pulled me aside and didn’t say a single word either. He then turned my body around and told me he needed to check my hair.
My hair is long. It goes down to my shoulders. Some of it flows down my shoulders on the back of my head and the rest is usually tied up in a bun.
This TSA agent immediately began combing my hair with a comb and I immediately had so many questions.
Did I have a gun tied up in my hair? Was there some kind of weapon hidden in it? Where did this comb come from? Was this comb sanitary? Why haven't I seen this happen to anyone else before?
Then, after combing my hair, which is so awkward and intrusive mind you, he began squeezing my hair bun as if it were a sponge. He squeezed it over and over again.
Was there a miniature gun hidden in my bun? Had I soaked my hair in enough liquid that if the TSA squeezed the hair, the liquid would drip out and reveal I had, in fact, taken more than three ounces of liquid with me? Was my hair a weapon?
After squeezing my hair bun around 10 times, the TSA agent told me I was good to go. At the time, I was so flabbergasted that I didn’t say anything. I was truly surprised.
Looking back today, I can only come to one of two conclusions.
This man desperately needed a promotion and I looked like the perfect suspect for his next-level investigation.
“Hey boss, I found an AK-47 in this man’s hair! Can I get that promotion now?”
Wouldn’t have mattered anyway because promotion or not, that agent wasn’t getting a paycheck because our government was shutdown for...reasons.
The only other conclusion I can come up with is that this man saw the most beautiful hair he’s ever seen – I do, admittedly, take great care of my hair and in the most humble way, it is quite fabulous – and took the only chance he had to caress said hair.
Regardless, in classic TSA fashion, I found myself laughing at their operation, disturbed by their level of intrusion and furthermore convinced that the TSA is the most useless level of security ever installed in America.