US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) both consider us nitwits who can’t pack a suitcase or travel about the country, let alone the world, without their supervision. And so after hopelessly mucking up travel with such nonsense as the "Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative" and "3-1-1," they now "Provide Reminders and Travel Tips to Summer Travelers." Yep, those are nouns you hear shrieking as bureaucrats force them into adjectival stress positions.
Plenty more such screams rend the "reminders": "Monitor border wait times for various ports of entry. … During periods of heavy travel, border crossers may wish to consider alternative, less heavily traveled entry routes" and "Passengers can help speed up the screening process [sic for u2018warrantless search'] by packing their carry-ons in an organized manner. This helps our officers [sic for u2018busybodies'] efficiently see what’s inside to quickly process it through screening [sic for u2018warrantless search']." Forget about making things easier on yourself by choosing the "port of entry" closest to your destination or by packing in the "manner" you prefer, however disorganized: a serf labors to ease his masters’ burdens, not his own.
Indeed, "reminding" us to do so has become something of a semi-annual tradition for the TSA. You might think an agency this hated would learn some humility and seek rather than give advice. But no.
Nonetheless, I forge ahead and modestly offer my recommendations to Our high-flying Rulers:
1) Disband. Really. It’s the only sensible move after screeners advised the world that they lack cojones — and took the pictures to prove it. I mean, guys, c’mon, we’re all laughing at you. Hard.
2) Disband. Immediately. Before every last one of you winds up in prison. You can’t keep stealing $24,000 watches with impunity forever. Even Al Capone eventually ran out of luck.
3) Disband. For the good of the country — sorry, "homeland." Because everyone knows you lack brains as well as that other b-word. Look, there used to be "dumb blonde/stewardess" — excuse me, "flight attendant" jokes for a reason. But now you dingbats take those dingbats seriously.
Case in point: when one of United’s stews smelled a “u2018pungent chemical odor’ coming from a bag on board" while taxiing for take-off at San Francisco International, you morons overreacted as usual rather than considering the source. She (NB: the article reporting this absurdity doesn’t mention the stew’s sex, but when was the last time a real man fussed that a carry-on was, like, way too big for the overhead bin? "She" goes for most of what works the aisles these days) immediately thought, "Terrorists!" instead of "Hmmm. I’m not real bright, or I’d be doing something besides handing out pretzels for a living. It’s likely that pungent odor emanates from a substance well beyond my limited outlook and experience. Perhaps it’s just Chinese herbs, and since the elderly couple to whom it belongs doesn’t speak much English, I’m going to show some startlingly good sense in these goofy times and silly u2018profession’ by keeping my mouth shut. Plus, if I open said orifice, I’ll remove all doubt about my regrettable and inherent foolishness."
Yeah, I’m dreaming. And so this arrogant airhead tattled to the pilot. He (also unspecified, but I’m going with "he" to distinguish him from our tattler) "receiv[ed] the bag" [sic for "accepted stolen property after the stew pilfered it from the couple"] and "notified local authorities."
No surprise at what happened next: "passengers deplaned and were taken by bus back to the airport, where they were rescreened [sic for "searched for the second time that day without a warrant"] by Transportation Security Administration agents." Good job, there, TSA: we all know how sneaky those elderly couples can be, handing out Chinese herbs willy-nilly that improve our circulation, clear our skin, and in general promote good health. "TSA dogs searched the plane with the help of hazardous materials and explosives teams from the San Francisco Fire Department." This delayed a flight that had been about to depart by six hours. Alas, "Police do not expect to file charges against anyone" despite the criminal stupidity of the stew, you buffoons at the TSA, and "local authorities."
4) Disband. Now. Before your sour grapes ferment and explode in your face.
Like most of your victims, Mrs. Hays is an exemplary person without any criminal record or intent. Unlike many of them, she actually deciphered your silly rules and packed a cooler with snacks you allow for her 93-year-old, infirm mother — a "[Traveler] with Disabilities and Medical Conditions" — when transporting her cross-country.
No matter: screeners tried to steal — sorry, confiscate her cooler. With her mother’s welfare at stake, Mrs. Hays protested rather than bow her head and murmur, "Yes, your majesties." That landed her in jail: the screeners’ version of events had her punching one of them.
Unfortunately for the screeners, the checkpoint’s surveillance camera sided with Mrs. Hays, and the judge was less creative than others who believe your goons over passengers regardless of the facts. He was content to lecture and reprimand Mrs. Hays — not the screeners who lied — rather than imprison her. He’ll also dismiss the charges if she "stays out of trouble" for six months. And a good thing, too: ladies in their 50′s who tenderly care for aging mothers start so many crime-waves these days.
This episode doesn’t exactly show you wingdings in a favorable light. The surveillance camera not only proves your employees lie — and that you fully support their mendacity — , it also records their brutality as they laugh at Mrs. Hays’ distress. So we might suppose you’d slink away from your defeat here, hoping we’d soon forget, fearful of more adverse publicity. Au contraire. The inmates of police states and their opinions do not chasten the wardens. So now you’re suing Mrs. Hays for $2500. Here’s hoping she counter-sues your missing cojones right off you. But whatever the outcome, remember: nobody likes a sore loser.
My fifth and final tip is for Congress: abolish the TSA. Then take a recess yourselves — and don’t come back.
Becky Akers [send her mail] writes primarily about the American Revolution.