Travel the world, and you’ll encounter many types of airport security, from full-body patdowns, to full-luggage rip-aparts. (I haven’t been strip-searched, so can’t speak to that.)
Only in America do travelers whine about security agents trying to keep them safe.
Me? I travel a lot, and, being disabled, am particularly sensitive to airport security.
I’ve been on a watch list for years (India-Pakistan-Afghanistan), so know what it’s like to be questioned, and detained, and questioned some more in several countries.
Traveling a lot lately, I’ve been impressed by the kindness of TSA agents, those U.S. airport security teams who screen passengers through multiple systems.
It’s not the TSA agents we should be anxious about — it’s fellow travelers. They’re the most obnoxious, the ones who push and shove and swear at fellow travelers, including me, a disabled woman just trying to get from Point A to Point B with a minimum of hassle.
Today, dragging myself through an airport metal detector without a leg brace — which had gone through its own X-ray — a male TSA agent seemed alarmed by my shuffling gait, and asked if I was hurt.
I muttered my usual, “I’m disabled,” which is usually enough to stop chatter.
“What happened to you?” he asked, touching my sleeve.
“Afghanistan war,” I mumbled. It’s my usual response to avoid more questions.
He grabbed my arm and apologized, and said, “I’m so glad for your service …”
I stopped him and explained I was a journalist in Afghanistan, not military.
No matter. “We’re very grateful you were there,” he replied.
I was dumbfounded. Where was the evil TSA agent who only wants to harm me, as I travel through umpteen security systems in the airports of the richest country on earth?
There was only a humble man, doing the humble job for which he’s paid, and for which — as I can deduce from traveling a lot in the U.S. — he gets a lot of grief from his fellow Americans.
Not from me. I’m grateful for the men and women who guard this country, and keep me safe, so I can travel in freedom and peace.