Butt in seat.

As far and wide as you travel, sooner or later you find yourself standing in line in the Saline Road Meijer w-a-i-t-i-n-g for a management-type person to extricate some hapless person’s driver’s license from underneath the bar code scanner. Or sitting through a couple cycles of the Jackson / N. Maple left turn signal while the People’s Express shuttle (whatever the heck that is) noses in front of the third vee-hicle ahead of you, trying to make a left turn into Westgate across three lanes of heavy traffic. Or you’re just plain old butt in seat at work, like I was today. Actually, I came close to logging in to my work email on flight DL2220 yesterday but I talked myself down off that ledge. What could I have been thinking? Maybe something like, “I can, so I will?” Kee-reist.

We made our flight reservations way back on about July 7th or whenever and it wasn’t until they were paid for that I realized we were flying home on the infamous date of September 11th. I am not a frequent flyer and, in fact, I am a relatively nervous one, even though I used to go up with my WWII flight instructor dad in little Cessna four-seaters all the time when I was a kid and sometimes he would even let me take the controls if I was in the front passenger seat. It’s the lack of control that I don’t like, not the actual flight experience, although I always feel better when I actually get a glimpse of the *pilot* before we board. Oddly enough, I am even more comforted when there is a female pilot. For the life of me, I cannot tease out why. Not today anyway.

Although I avoided watching TV news at SeaTac yesterday, in the grand scheme of things, I wasn’t really all that freaked out about flying on 911 other than a couple of fleeting moments when my overactive brain decided to run amok with, “We are flying outta SeaTac and maybe we’ll take out the Golden Gate.” I squelched that thought in short order. Sheesh, KW!

Where am I going with this? Can I just say that the SeaTac TSA folks (at least the ones I encountered) made that whole experience a piece of cake. First of all, a *very* friendly TSA trainer guy took the time to clarify the whole do-I-take-my-iPad-outta-my-backpack-or-not thing. (Short answer? Yes, it is officially okay to leave your iPad in your backpack but stuff happens and people are asked to remove them sometimes. I was okay with that answer.) Next, a man (nervous flyer?) several people ahead of me at the metal detector thingy was asking about removing his watch. The TSA guy who was beckoning us through that thing told him — in a genuinely friendly voice — something like, “You can leave your watch on. Don’t worry, we’ll get you through.” THE SEATAC TSA FOLKS GAVE ME HOPE FOR THE UNITED SNAKES OF AMERICA!

I think that Daytwa Metro could take a lesson from SeaTac. At least the woman who barked me through the scanner thingy last Thursday. I had NO metal on me anywhere. I felt like I was naked in my summer clothes and bare feet. I had even taken off the gold chains that I ALWAYS wear (even when I swim in Gitchee Gumee). So the scanner didn’t turn anything up and she had no choice but to clear me but she still managed to try to make me feel like I was two inches tall. “When I say ‘don’t move’, DON’T MOVE!” I was feeling totally underwater that morning and I didn’t process her words in a split second. “Who the *hell* are *you*?”, I wondered.

I was so underwater that morning that I wasn’t really all that angry (although others were — even including one of her co-workers that we overheard saying he didn’t want to work with her again). I am still not angry, at least not at her. I recognized her need to boss me around as a personal problem on her part and that’s as far as I will go with that. My problem? Why is the TSA hiring people who take deep-rooted shoulder chips out on innocent little people who are nervous about flying from the get-go?

We DO need to somehow screen airline passengers from carrying on box-cutters or underwear bombz or whatever. I’m not going to comment on whether what we’re doing now is effective or not. I don’t know. What I want to know is how can we screen people out of the TSA who are not appropriate for dealing with the typical American flyer (and we come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, make no mistake) who is usually traveling to be with family and friends or to a conference or a vacation or whatever. Or at least place them somewhere else.

I’ve gone on long enough. Back home, butt in seat. And the photooo is of Castle Island from the Point Colville trail on Lopez Island.

4 Responses to “Butt in seat.”

  1. Margaret Says:

    I thought it was just my imagination that the SeaTac TSA people seemed way nicer and friendlier than at other airports. Hmmm.

  2. Kathy Farnell Says:

    Guess I have been lucky. I have always been checked by friendly TSA people every time I have flown the friendly skies. It is the cops outside at DTW that are so nasty. You have to jump from a moving car, bag in hand, or else you get yelled at!

  3. kayak woman Says:

    Those cops can be crazy! We were lucky picking up the girls last night. We had two vee-hickles there (our Subaru and Liz’s Civic) so Liz could take her car up to Fabulous Ferndale without returning to The Planet Ann Arbor in between. There was a very minor police car presence but they were ignoring all of us last night. Sigh. Yes, many many many TSA folks are friendly.

  4. Pam J. Says:

    I have a friend who upon losing her job when US Air went belly-up resorted to working as a TSA inspector. The hiring process was dehumanizing, the hours were unbelievable (she had to work her 8-hour day in two 4-hour shifts with 3 unpaid hrs in between shifts — employees gathered in the cafeteria for the 3 hrs b/c it’s not enough time to do or get to anything else when you’re working in Washington, DC), and the morale of the employees was extremely low. Every morning they were given a Marine-style drill sergeant “pep” talk, complete with sarcasm and yelling. My friend lasted about 3 months. She’s now the director of a homeless shelter in the DC suburbs, dealing with burned-out & homeless military vets and other assorted poor souls. But she finds these folks to be vastly more pleasant than those she worked with and around as a TSA inspector.

    I’m not defending rude TSA employees but it’s always good to learn what goes on behind the scenes. Many people are coming around to the belief that in our efforts to protect ourselves from another 9/11 we’ve built up this horrible travel infrastructure. I know plenty of people who (especially over here on the east coast) take trains, cars, and busses to avoid air travel. Bin Laden wins every single day by disrupting our society in small ways. What’s that cliche? Death by a thousand cuts?