Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To Opt Out or Not To Opt Out

I made my Thanksgiving travel plans a month before this whole issue of enhanced security at the airports blew up… so to speak. As I told you when I flew on Monday, I didn’t experience any more delay or see anyone getting the full body scan treatment. The kerfuffle, however, has now gone beyond what goes on at the airport and taken on — what else — a political tinge with conservatives, who are finding themselves being subjected to pat-downs, demanding that the TSA start using profiling of passengers as opposed to singling out everybody, including Granny and Baby Snooks. How dare they grope Thurston Howell III and let Mustafa al-Gebra go through the metal detector without even a grab on the ass?

Today is being called National Opt-Out Day by folks that object to the full-body scans and the enhanced pat-downs. I get the point of the protests and in the case of people who are survivors of sexual assault or have other legitimate reasons to object to being touched by strangers, there has to be a better way.

But through all of this, the people who do not need to be harassed or blamed are the TSA agents at the checkpoints in the airports. They are doing their jobs as best they can. Some people have mocked them as minimum-wage rent-a-cops or worse, government bureaucrats. But it’s a thankless job, the pay isn’t great, the hours are long, and they have to put up with a lot of people who are lashing out at them because they can’t kick the dog or yell at their kids or their spouse.

So in the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, if you’re going out today to the airport, do one small goodness for your fellow citizen: smile and thank the TSA agent who checks your I.D. and guides you through the security. They have a life, too, and they are people who don’t like making other people uncomfortable any more than you do, and they didn’t make the rules. The least you can do is be nice.