March 21st - Dulles Airport (Outside Washington DC) As usual, it is 6:00AM and it's time to deal with the TSA gang. For those of you not from Washington, TSA is particularly effective at consistent incompetance at Dulles. Near the United Airlines counters is the area known by many as the 'animal farm.' The TSA has set up a zipzag pattern of cattle-type rows to get to their search area. Even when there are few customers, you still have to go through the maze to get to our nation's dedicated servants.
Each day, it seems they check for something else, and also change the sensitivty of the scanning machines. Today, it is watches. One of their brighter agents saw me put my watch in the bucket to go through the x-ray, picked it up, and commented to the four other agents who were watching, but otherwise doing nothing, that it seemed 'heavy' for a watch. Now, it is hard to tell who is in the pecking order, or even who these faithful public servants are. I think it has something to do with the stripes on their military style epaulets that determines if they are important, or simply go for coffee.
Today, I asked about Chertoff's announcement that no longer did you have to take off your shoes. The answer from a three-striper was that "Chertoff can do what he wants downtown, out here we do what we want to do. You can leave your shoes on if you want, but then you go through the more involved search. Take your choice."
Going through the scanner, somehow the handle to my luggage was broken, and my change disappeared. The scanner general told me I could make a claim for the luggage, if I wanted to go back outside the security, and that my change probably fell out of the folded plastic bag and down into the machine. Wasn't worth effort to try to reason with someone of dubious brainpower.
March 22nd Afternoon, Nashville, TN. I have nothing but admiration for the team at Nashville. Every single time I go through that station, I get sincere courtesy, attempts to make it easier to get through, and good explanations for whatever they do. It's too bad that the rest of the TSA isn't like the Nashville Team.
March 28th. Dulles Airport (Again). This morning it was screwdrivers--small screwdrivers. The guy at the x-ray had obviously taken a course in shapes--perhaps in his first grade class. In any case, I keep a small (less that 2") screwdriver in order to change out drives on my laptop. One of the problems for consultants. Usually they ask, and I get it for them and explain why I have it. I show the replacement drive in the bag with it, and most are reasonable. Not the Dulles Crew. Six people converged as he yelled he had found a screwdriver. I was ushered into a box something like defendants in low-budget French or English films stand in so that everybody will know that they are being investigated. (It's the only one I have found in my travels) Then I had to have a complete search since I had the dangerous weapon. Finally, when I was allowed to go (nearly late for my flight) I found the three cigars in my briefcase in the pocket with the screwdriver were gone. Hope they enjopy them.
That's it for today. Will have more exciting news on airport security over time.