Grope and rob a couple of senior citizens anywhere in America and you’ll be arrested and thrown in jail (unless the seniors are African-Americans, in which case they’re out of luck). But if you’re groped and robbed by the TSA, there’s not a damned thing you can do, as this couple found out in San Diego …
Omer Petti is a 95-year-old USAF veteran with artificial knees and a heart condition. Madge Woodward, his partner, has an artificial hip. They recently flew home to Detroit from San Diego, and were humiliated and robbed at the San Diego airport TSA checkpoint. The metal in their bodies set off the TSA magnetometer, and Petti was instructed to put his $300 in cash in a bin. Then he was further detained when a swab detected the nitroglycerin residue from his heart pills. He and Woodward were subjected to humiliating patdowns, and then discovered that their $300 had gone missing. When Petti asked where his money had gone, the TSA agent required he and Woodward to remove their shoes again and empty out their pockets, and asked if they were “refusing his request” when they objected. The TSA manager checked the security footage, but reported that it was “too blurry” to see what had happened to the money. The two elderly people were loaded into their wheelchairs and taken to their plane at full tilt, barely making it. They never got their money back.
This doesn’t surprise me one bit. I had my own experience with some of the TSA’s finest (snark) at a small Arizona airport. I was on my “reward” flight for racking-up enough miles with United to get a free round-trip ticket. When I checked-in for the return flight, the reservationist said “I can’t believe they did this to you. The computer randomly selected you as a security risk.” It printed a string of large “AAAAAA”s on my ticket. The reservationist said not to worry, it happens regularly, it just sucks that its on my reward flight. “Not to worry”. Tell that to the uneducated, overweight, power-hungry dicks in the TSA security line, who alerted each other by holding my ticket in the air and then yanked me off to the side where they dumped everything out of my carry on. And I mean literally “dumped it”; held it out chest high and dumped the contents on a table. Good thing I wasn’t a terrorist carrying an explosive that’s sensitive to an impact. While one “agent” inspected my bag and its contents with a magnifying glass and sensors, the other one wanded me (no fondling on this trip). When they finished they told me to wait, so I waited … and waited … as I watched them process each passenger, then watched as they made their way to the plane (this was a communter airport where you walk outside to the plane). This seemed to go on forever. My flight was at 11:30 AM – at 11:25 AM the relative who drove me to the airport returned to the United reservationist to ask if she could help. The reservationist said “Those assholes!”, ran to the security line, and yelled at the TSA agents, “He’s going to miss his flight if you don’t get going!” The agents simply walked away from me and left me standing there, so I quickly threw everything back into my carry-on and ran out to the plane. Oh no, that’s not the end of my ordeal. When I reached the plane a flight attendant met me at the door to tell me, “You’re too late, we gave away your seat.”
Obviously, I found my way home and contacted United and the TSA. Predictably, United gave me their canned line about the random, computer generated security risk alert that found its way to my ticket; nothing they could do, its the computer program. No apology. I emailed the TSA and they also sent me a canned response, this time about the need for security and terrorism, blah, blah, blah … without a word about the actions of their agents or an apology. That was in 2004 and I’ve never flown since.
But I’m happy to take a break from politics and post in this blog on any stories I read about the incompetent fucks at the TSA. Someday, those clowns will be out of a job and looking for work and I hope, I encourage anyone who has their resume on their desk to throw it straight into the round file.
Some other incidents of TSA abuse:
- Mother forces to pump breast milk to fill empty bottles while standing at sink in an airport bathroom.
- Agent squeezes urine bag all over passenger.
- 95-year-old, wheelchair-bound, 105-pound woman with end-stage leukemia forced to remove her adult diaper during a pat-down
- Cancer surviving flight attendant forced to remove her prosthetic breast during an airport pat-down.