Thursday, February 09, 2006
The other day we picked up a friend at the Honolulu International Airport (HNL). The flight was a little late so we sat at the curbside instead of continuing to circle the terminal. We got away with it for about five minutes before one of those ultra scary TSA’ers tapped on my window. She was an older woman. She had to be at least 65.
She taps on my window and asks me if I’m waiting for someone.
I tell her, “Yes,” and leave it at that to see what she’d say back.
The woman replies in a heavy Filipino accent, “Well, is she coming in on a flight? What flight does she arrive on?”
I say, “Yes,” without volunteering more information than I have to.
My friend, she’s the driver, speaks before the TSA’er can respond and points to the automatic doors just 10 yards beyond the TSA’er, “Oh. She’s right there.”
The TSA’er turns to look at who my friend is pointing at and sees no one.
At this point I’m amused by the Transportation Security Agent’s inquiry and the comedy unraveling before me. I know her immediate objective is to get us to leave the curbside. President Bush says that the events of 9-11 make it necessary for the general public to be under constant surveillance, under constant suspicion. Of course that’s not quite the language he used. I believe he says we must be vigilant. Cautious. Aware. Insert ‘rolling eyes’ here.
I imagine that much of the TSA shift meetings must be about keeping the airport curbsides free and clear of any stragglers. They probably review the acceptable and unacceptable items allowed on an airplane. After all, the general public is assumed to be terrorists until proven otherwise. Why else would this TSA’er subject a seemingly harmless van with two children and two adult females to a mild interrogation?
My friend and I are still sitting there, curbside. I’m wondering what the TSA’er will say next. I’m positive that she’s slightly intimidated by my size and irritated with our blatant disregard for her authority. I mean, my friend had just pointed at the thin air and told the TSA’er that the person we’re picking up is right there.
The agent peers at me with distrust, “Does the person you’re waiting for work here?”
I had already told her that we’re waiting for a flight to arrive but I ask her anyway, “Can I stay parked here if I tell you that the person we’re waiting on works here?”
The agent reasserts herself in that heavy Filipino accent, “You cannot be parked here.” She smirks and points to the exit that will lead us back around the terminal.
Not wanting to cause a commotion, we pull away from the curbside and make our way toward the exit. I think about that little, old, TSA woman and wonder what terrorist she could possibly scare away. As we’re moving along the terminal, I notice that nearly ALL of the agents lining the curbside are older immigrants. This alone tells me that homeland security and its offspring, the transportation security agents, are a joke.
After 9-11, Homeland Security sprung into existence. I suppose that a TSA’er believes that he or she is on the frontline of keeping our country safe. After all, they keep those airport curbsides free and clear. At security checkpoints they search for those tweezers and nail clippers and moustache trimmers and scissors and whatever other implements that can be used as a weapon.
If this is the case, that TSA is indeed the frontline in the fight against terror, then please explain to me how a retiree qualifies to do this monumental task! They probably wouldn’t be able to chase down a trained terrorist. Along that line of thinking, I’ll suggest that a TSA’ers only function is to tattle tale because that really is the only thing they can do. They’re armed with a walkie-talkie and a badge. It’s funny how conventional schooling has trained the average person to obey and respect a badge as a form of authority. This goes against any logical thought process because a badge has NO inherent authority. Literally, the power in the badge is imagined. But I digress.
We exit the terminal and my friend and I find a place to park and wait. Thirty minutes later we’re entering the terminal again. We spot our intended passenger.
On our way out of the airport terminal we spot the little, old TSA woman with the heavy Filipino accent. There she is with a stoic face, walkie-talkie on her hip and her TSA badge pinned over her heart. Though I am not in hearing distance, I see her telling another suspected terrorist parked at the curbside, “You cannot be parked here,” as she points to the exit that leads back around the terminal.