There’s a saying my father often used, “You can’t win for losing.” As a kid, I always struggled to wrap my head around it –trying to notch the words together in a way that made sense. Basically, it’s a more dramatic version of another homespun truism: “Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.”
Such is life for every TSA agent in the country. Make us take off our shoes? We’re pissed. Make us un-sheath our laptops? We’re pissed. Let a pair of bomb shoes or a laptop filled with snakes slip through your clutches (carried, potentially by a terrorist, but more commonly by an undercover TSA agent)? We’re doubly pissed. Or dead.
The stakes of working for the TSA are insanely high. The starting salary is $31K. Pretty safe to say that there’s no job in the country with a worse salary/”cost of f*cking up” ratio. They greet us when we’re cranky, tired, and rushed; doing jobs that society has almost fetishized the mockery of. (Thank god Jordan Peele tossed the TSA a bone with Lil Rel Howery’s character, Rod, in Get Out).
Everyone wants the TSA to ease up, but know this: if they make a mistake, there will be no mercy. No excuses will work. We will have blood. And that mistake can be something getting past them or trying too hard to make sure something doesn’t. Take this mega-viral video showing a TSA pat down of a 13-year-old boy: