Let me start by saying that I'm not an overly sensitive person. I usually roll with things pretty well. I don't get upset very often. As a single mom, I've learned to be pretty tough.
But today, Friday, September 24, 2010, I admit complete and total defeat to the San Jose Airport TSA.
Since the unveiling of the new security equipment at SJC in June, I have passed through their basic security scanners 5 times.
And 5 times I have been subjected to a full-body pat-down.
Today, I went to the airport totally prepared....no metal, no jewelry, no belt, no watch, NO BRA. Yoga pants and a tank top, baby! There was NO chance that I was going to have to endure the pat-down.
The Princess and I waited in the security line for a good 30 minutes, made it past the boarding pass checker, and then waited another 5 minutes or so to load everything in the bins to pass through the scanners.
Only today, I was greeted by one of the new full-body backscatter scanners. People, these things which have until now been just a vague future impediment - are now operational and way way WAY creepy.
For those of you who aren't familiar with our newest weapon in the war on scary underwear and exploding mascara, here's how this works.
You stand between what looks like two large blue refrigerator-size boxes, hold up your arms and freeze. A x-ray type scanner takes a full-body (essentially naked) picture of you. The image is reviewed by a TSA agent in another room who pinky-swears not to make a copy or take a picture of it with his or her phone and post it on Facebook. Once the image is approved, the hidden TSA agent radios the TSA agent in front of you with the "go" or "pat the fucker down" signal.
The whole process takes a few minutes, holds up the entire security line, is completely and totally demoralizing...
...and, today, ended in a pat-down anyway. Even though I had on me no metal, no jewelry, no belt, no watch, no bra.
So somebody I'll never see or meet saw me bare-ass naked today AND I got patted down anyway. Without - I might add - notice or permission. The TSA woman just moved in and started working me over.
I hate it.
I get that we need to have security to protect us from scary things. I get it.
I know that TSA says that the full-body scanners are "optional". But their definition of "optional" is full-body pictures or full-body pat-down. I'm not sure which is worse. The "option" is printed in tiny print on signs in the security area. These signs also provide you an example of the image that the scanner takes....which is detailed enough to show if you need to lose a few pounds and are hiding it under a big sweatshirt, if you are Team Tampon or Team Maxipad, or - for the boys - if your penis is playing scared turtle.
For the record, this is not me
I've also heard anecdotally that TSA seriously frowns on passengers opting out of the scanners and treats those passengers to aggressive full-body pat-downs. I don't know what an "aggressive" full-body pat-down entails, but I've had the regular kind and it isn't much fun.
So you submit and hope like hell that the TSA agent that you can't see is actually a decent, respectful human being, who is definitely not making copies of these naked pictures of you and your daughter so that he use them to spank the monkey in his basement later.
When these controversial scanners were first introduced by TSA, I remember thinking that it wasn't really a big deal. Whatever.
But it is a big deal. Maybe it doesn't bother everyone. Maybe it's because I'm a female that it bothers me so much. I do know, without a doubt, that the actual experience is completely and utterly humiliating.
I wish that I could avoid it by booking my flights out of one of the other two area airports in the Bay Area, but it is estimated that there will be 500 of these damn things operational in airports across the country in the next few years. There's no getting around the future. It seems that the future is 1984.
Big Brother is here and probably judging your muffin-top and penis size.