The other day I had an interesting experience with TSA and it reminded me of an excellent article I read on your website by Gary North called "How To Gum Up Any Institution."
Gary told the story of Vladimir Bukovsky, who single-handedly grounded operations in the Soviet Gulag to a halt by using their own rules against them. It’s an incredible story, and I recommend that anyone interested in defeating the State read it.
I was waiting in line to go through the X-ray machine/Porno Scanner. TSA was alternating sending folks through one or the other, causing major delays of course. After passing through, I was held up for another 10 minutes while my bags were in their X-ray machine because the traveler in front of me left his laptop in his bag. I have no idea why laptops must be removed from their bags, nor do I really care because every TSA rule is arbitrary and pointless to discuss.
But why did it delay all of the travelers behind this gentleman 10 minutes? Because TSA welfare cretins must follow the rules, just like the Soviets in Gary North’s story. The person examining the bags going through cannot inspect the bag that he flagged for review. He cannot use discretion and allow it to pass (after all, if prudent judgment was his strength, he wouldn’t be working for the TSA.) The officer has to yell "bag check!" and wait for a supervisor to come over. And wait. And wait. And wait. This is why TSA stands for Thousands Standing Around. Each person can only do one job at a time. There is no multitasking. If the supervisor is busy, as she was at this time, every other TSA perv continues their current duty – which basically amounts to staring into nothingness as they contemplate how they will spend their big government paychecks.
What followed was predictable. At first the TSA creep running the machine was apathetic to the delay this was causing us. After all, from his point of view, he’s not getting delayed, nor does he really have any vested interest in making sure we have an enjoyable experience at the airport (which pretty much explains why no one ever has an enjoyable experience at the airport, by the way!) As time passed, I saw him getting unsettled in response to the grimaces and decreasing patience on our part. I did my best to look him in the eye with an expression that could only say "I want to eat your face." He made a couple of attempts to question the traveler’s supposed stupidity in not following their so-very-important rules, but the offender – an Asian man – pretended not to hear him/speak English.
But while I was giving him the death stare, an idea occurred to me – an idea that was the result of reading North’s article. I will never take my laptop out of my bag again, and I encourage all of your readers to do the same. It gums up the works. It grinds the entire operation to a halt without any serious ramifications to the offending traveler. (He gets a 1 minute pat-down and an even shorter, somewhat hilarious lecture on passenger safety.) But for the passengers behind him it is a huge hassle, having to wait for no apparent reason while they see dozens of TSA nincompoops standing around doing nothing.
Some might argue that this is passive-aggressive behavior created to deal with fear. My reply would be, so what? I admit that I’m afraid. I’m afraid I’ll miss my flight. I’m afraid I’ll get into a confrontation with an agent that will escalate. I’m afraid that I’ll be put on a no-fly list, making it nearly impossible to visit family and friends. I readily admit my fears. Gumming up the works sure beats living in fear. It’s something I can do, and do often, without having to worry about getting caged or beaten or banned.
Others might object that I’m making life miserable for innocent travelers behind me. I can understand that and I sympathize with that view. I know I didn’t find it very pleasant to be delayed by 10 minutes. But as those who support the TSA always tell me, "If you don’t like it, you don’t have to fly."
So leave your laptop in your bag. Grind TSA operations to a halt with a simple act of non-violence. Then pretend you had no idea they had such a rule in the first place.
David Burns [send him mail] is a Network Security Specialist based out of Southern California.