Writes Allan Davis:
I took my step-daughter through Omaha Airport yesterday. She is flying cross-country to visit her father.
Our timing was very good; the line to get through security was short, less than a ten minute wait. As we showed our identification, I noticed a sign that said “You may choose to go through the new backscatter system or use the older one.”
What I found interesting was that no one was using the old system. Everyone was choosing to walk through the new one, hold their arms over their heads, and continue on their way. Do we live in a nation of exhibitionists?
Interestingly enough, the TSA workers were quite pleased with this. There were no agents on the old-fashioned line, and at least twice what was needed on the new one. Most of the agents were standing around shooting the breeze.
I did not want my sixteen year old going through the porno-scanner. I broke from the line, moved over to the empty table, and put my shoes in a box to go through the old-fashioned scanner. One of the TSA agents hustled over to man the empty booth, and asked me to wait a moment; another agent--this one somewhere on the heavier end of the range between “a few extra pounds” and “morbidly obese”--stumbled up to the carry-on scanner station and warmed it up.
Before I could go through, they asked if the little old lady in a wheelchair could go through ahead of me, and I of course stepped back. She stood, very slowly and shakily, and worked her way through the booth.
“Okay, you’ll have to step over here…”
They guided the poor woman to the two footprints painted on the floor; it took an agonizingly long time. She stretched her arms out for the wand, and her hands were quivering in the air with the effort. And at this point--as the wand was beeping near her leg--her son finally made it through the porn scanner and stepped up to say “Oh, she has an artificial hip.”
I had collected my belongings, put my shoes back on, wandered across to the gate, and sat down before this poor lady--and obvious high-risk terrorism suspect--was finally allowed to collapse back into her wheelchair.
And I noticed that the bulk of the line of people had changed. Only a bare handful were opting for the porn scanner now; most everyone was following where we had gone, through the older security gate, and all of the agents were now busy, moving the crates, supporting both lines instead of ignoring one.
I think I may have seen one of them send a dirty look my way for forcing them to support both.