After reading a bunch of posts from a former TSA agent (Taking Sense Away, hosted at WordPress.com), I’m finally convinced to opt–out every time I fly. Why? If he and other TSA agents call people who opt–out “smart passengers”, that’s good enough for me.
Bob Hope Airport in Burbank obviously isn’t as busy as LAX, so it was a good opportunity to see how this would go.
I spoke with nice TSA screeners. I voiced my anxiety about my stuff going through the x-ray machine, then the screener — let’s call him “John” — who was about to pat me down eased my fears and we walked over to it to gather my things.
John explained the process thoroughly, and asked me if I wanted a private screening before proceeding. I politely declined while gazing forward at other passengers, noticing that nobody else opted out. All while a stranger felt around me with latex-covered hands.
I’m relieved John didn’t linger on any areas. He also asked about my right foot since I was limping, and hoped that I felt better soon.
The only awkwardness I can remember is John exhaling/grunting every few seconds during the pat down. His breathing was somewhat labored. (He was a bit heavyset, so I hope it’s nothing serious.) The entire process seemed to take about five more minutes than if I went through the millimeter wave scanner.
I’d like to think he earned his paycheck, and I’m glad to stop putting my health into technology that hasn’t been thoroughly tested.
Thanks to Hal Bergman, there’s video of the encounter with the security team at the US Bank Tower. Shawn (Discarted) edited the video and just blogged about it this morning. Consider it part two, which include the put downs, plus an attempt to teach one of the security guards by Angelo [of Hollywood].
Summary and transcription at the Gas Company Tower
Our first confrontation was almost immediate, occurring in front of the Gas Company Tower (Google Maps). The first SG was a older man with a New York accent. What follows is my transcription of the confrontation, along with an audio recording (download here).
This Sunday (1/18/2009) at 2pm, we’re going to meet at Pershing Square and walk to the US Bank building to protest, take photos and educate people. Of course, there are many buildings around the area that we’ll photograph and most likely get harassed.
In addition to your camera, bring video cameras or audio recorders (if you have any) to document any confrontation(s).
Mentally prepare yourself. Understand and stand up for your rights. Photography is not a crime.
Update 1/21/2009 4:15pm: I shouldn’t have worded my post this way. I’d like to clarify that our primary goal was to take photos. If we got harassed, then we’d have the necessary tools needed to document the incident.