Friday, November 15, 2013

Open Letter to the TSA

The recent killing of a TSA agent was a horrendous act.  Violence is never a solution, and I send out my condolences to Gerardo Hernandez' family. Neither he nor any other TSA agent deserves any harm for any reason.

However, I think that the policies of the TSA do no favors for their agents. Sensible thinking people can become perplexed by what they see happening at airports.  Normally patient passengers can rain down anger and frustration on TSA agents for situations that are not the agents' faults.

Yesterday morning I was at the airport and there were long lines.  Noticing the long lines, someone at the TSA decided to open up another line to try to get people through security.  Great decision!  Unfortunately, they decided to open up an expedited line for new passengers just arriving at the airport.  In the new line, there were two TSA agents checking IDs and boarding passes and two baggage x-ray machines in service.  Meanwhile, the old line with about 200 people in it, lost a TSA agent checking passes and IDs, then one of the x-ray machines stopped scanning due to lack of personnel.  These actions gave the "old line" half the agents and four to five times the passengers as the "new line".

This might not have been a problem, except that the two lines were next to each other.  Many travelers in my line (the old, slow one) who had already been waiting 20-30 minutes watched those next to them zoom through security.  People started to get upset and tried to figure out what was going on.

The TSA agent who was asked "Is that a special program?  How could we get in that line?" in a polite tone, replied "You'll have to ask the manager for its official name."  Then she promptly disappeared.  Perhaps she had heard the resentment behind the courteous question.

One TSA agent even said to another one, "I thought this was supposed to make it go faster."  Then he added, "Can't we send some of them down there?"  Sensible.  I never heard the answer, but needless to say no one from our line was sent down to the zooming line.  In fact, our line seemed to have come to a complete stop.

Kudos to the TSA agent who attempted to explain the logic behind the two very different lines, saying that the other line was a Pre-Check line, randomly assigning passengers to a faster line (the new line) and a slower line (my line).  He earnestly added that the other line was only faster because they had more agents conducting the security checks.  Thankfully, before open revolt occurred, a second TSA agent began checking ids and someone came to man the x-ray machine and the "old line" started moving faster, and we all became patient peaceful passengers again.

Final note:  I know that all employees deserve and need breaks. Nevertheless, TSA agents might want to take their breaks behind the scenes instead of standing with two co-workers also on break, watching a line full of passengers slowly boil over.

Nano Update:
Plot?  Main character is on a shift at the coffee shop
Word Count?  21,007
(I'll work on catching up on my eleven hour train ride with no wi-fi!)

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