TSA Creepiness

So, I’m sitting here right now in a massage chair at an airport in Houston, waiting for a flight to New York to attend a symposium (and to meet up with several libertarian buddies while there). A strange incident occurred a few minutes ago when I went through “security.” As my bag and coat and shoes were passing through the luggage scanner and I was waiting for my turn to go into the TSA pornotron scanner, one of the TSA guards came running up, shouting something loud—something like BRAVO! Everyone froze. All the guards put their hands out to stop people from going through the scanners. An obese woman in front of me in line, who was standing in the pornotron, just stood there, waiting.

I’m not sure what happened. There was evidently some security breach—maybe some guard slipped up, I don’t know. Anyway, what was creepy was how a hush descended over the entire hall. Everyone stood still, and said nothing at all. We all stood like that for maybe 4 or 5 minutes. No one dared even ask the nearest TSA goon what was going on, how long it would take, whether this was normal; no nervous chuckles or light humor. Just frozen silence. This is the part that really intrigued me, and creeped me out. I have the sense that a few years ago, even if the security procedure would have been halted temporarily, people would have chatted, joked with the guards, asked them what was going on. Not now. Not anymore.

Eventually another guard ran up, whispered to another, and said something like “security-resume!” and things returned to “normal.”

Well, not quite. The obese woman who had been standing in the pornotron was unable to raise her arms, so they had to send her through the pat down line. The next guy in line, ahead of me, then entered the pornotron, but they could not get it to work—they had to “recalibrate” it or something. So they just sent us all through the standard metal detector—no patdowns. There were people standing there getting pat downs—who had previously opted out of the pornotron—resentfully watching us all just saunter through the metal detector and getting to avoid the pat down.

At least this massage chair is nice.


6:16 am on February 17, 2011