Saturday, November 27, 2010

The TSA: Keep Calm And Stop Whining

I don't mind high security. This may confuse some, but I am half English. Why does this matter? Well, from the time I was a little girl our trips to England to visit family and our time living overseas taught me many things. One is that people sound different from one another in different parts of the world. Another is Germans love beer. But a most compelling lesson I learned was unattended packages are very dangerous.

England has been hit with the terrorist stick so long it doesn't phase the population. It dates back to 1066 when they had that horrid invasion. You know the one if you went to high school. The subsequent invasions have been horrific to say the least, which I think explains their incredible sense of humor. It's amazing really. People who have been subjected to a tremendous amount of trauma either become complete whack jobs or comedians. There seems to be no middle ground.

From the time I was a little girl there were signs all over England about unattended packages. It has been their ongoing battle with the Irish Republican Army. I don't understand terrorists. I have particularly never understood this terrorist group since England has spent so much money keeping Northern Ireland's economy going. My grandmother had some extremist beliefs about this dilemma. She said England should have pulled the British troops a long time ago and allowed the people to slaughter one another. I disagreed and read the novel Trinity while on a long visit to England the summer of 1983. I read it on the subway or tube as they call it in England. I was too naive or brazen to realize reading this in public was probably endangering my personal safety. I was seventeen. That explains a lot right there.

England has had to beef up security for seemingly forever. I think there is nothing more sobering than looking at pictures of London citizens hiding in the what they call the tube and we call a subway during World War II Nazi raids. Also disturbing is the book my mother told me to get entitled "The Day They Took The Children. My mom was one of the hundredds of thousands of children evacuated from London during the blitzes. Fortunately she had family in the countryside. Many were sent to complete strangers. I am not certain anyone complained much, the Brits just don't complain that much really. My grandmother, for instance, was blown up the staircase after opening her front door during World War II. After that, she dusted herself off and went shopping for groceries.

On Saturday November 20th, 2010 I entered Sea-Tac airport fatigued. As you may or may not know, I have multiple sclerosis. I needed a wheelchair that day to get through the airport. The policy of patting down or scanning people had just been implemented by the Transportation Security Agency (TSA). First came the trauma of getting a wheelchair. They were in short supply for some reason. Next came waiting in the wrong line to get patted or scanned. The scanners are too narrow for wheelchairs. I was whisked from one location to the final destination where I met the Nurse Ratchet of TSA agents. She ordered Jay to vacate the area. She left me within a half inch of a cloth strap barrier which for some reason I did not back away from. She was so nasty I started to cry. There's a pill out for MS related crying and laughing which I refuse to take lest I have to get a new liver to deal with the side effects. I plan to laugh and sob my way to my grave thank you very much.

After I began to cry, she eased up. She patted me down, then said she had to go test her latex gloves. I presume this was for residue of some sort related to bombs. The thing is, I am okay with all of this. As long as we are safe flying it's okay with me. The outrage at this in this nation is linked to how recent terrorism is to immigrants. I say immigrants as most of us are the immigrants. The Native Americans were the original inhabitants of this nation. Terrorism is not new to them. A wise poet and Native American once told me there are as many ways to view a circumstance as there are points on a circle. Perhaps my view is not the popular one right now. I just feel lucky my family was never blown up in downtown London by the Irish Republican Army or the Nazis. We were all extremely lucky considering my grandfather, uncle and aunt and others worked in downtown London. I can think of better ways to die than on a plane with a bomb. I think we all just better step up and stop our whining. -Alison Whiteman


Linda Medrano said...

Alison, it's a mess. But I think it is necessary right now. I don't like it. Nobody does. But do what you have to. Feel me up, scan me, hell, look in my ears and mouth if you want. I have nothing to hide.

Tacoma Gawker said...

My feelings too. Just keep us safe. I like to get where I am going and I sure like coming back too!

NineInchNachos said...

It doesn't make us safe. Terrorists will just find ways around it like they always do. Just makes 99.9% of people who fly and are not terrorists miserable.

Tacoma Gawker said...

Well, I think it does make us safer. Britain has cameras all over the place. The people do not complain. I think they just have a different view than we do being new to domestic terrorism.

Tacoma Gawker said...

Well, I think it does make us safer. The Brits have cameras all over the place. People do not complain. We are just new to domestic terrorism. It's not a plot, the end of the world, or the coming of the second Christ. It's just the world we live in now. But I can understand that people do not like change.