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:
It was filmed by Jennifer Williamson of Plano, TX. The boy is her son, being patted down by a TSA officer after an alarm set off by a laptop. This comes on the heels of the TSA’s announcement of more stringent/ invasive pat downs because they are under pressure to protect us better, by an administration that has used specific rhetoric to make travel seem dangerous.
“We have been through hell this morning,” Williamson wrote on Facebook. “I am livid. Please, share… make this viral like the other children’s videos with TSA… I wish I had taped the entire interchange because it was horrifying. We had two DFW police officers that were called and flanking him on each side.”
The post has been shared 95K times. The video has been viewed 5.8 million times. Williamson’s TSA hate resonated deeply. Meanwhile, the TSA is standing its ground.
“In total, the pat-down took approximately two minutes,” they wrote in a statement to media, “and was observed by the mother and two police officers who were called to mitigate the concerns of the mother. The passengers were at the checkpoint for approximately 45 minutes, which included the time it took to discuss screening procedures with the mother and to screen three carry-on items that required further inspection.”