“Pat downs or Full-Body Imaging? TSA Airport Backlash” screams the headline for an article on OpenMarket.org. My only quibble with the piece is that the headline implies there is an either/or choice at the security barrier. I went through the process on Monday and got both the scan and the pat-down — and more.
I was traveling from D.C. to Maine via the Baltimore airport. The line was moving very slowly thanks to a woman who refused to be scanned or groped. This confused the TSA officers to the point that they began chatting about what to do with her.
As usual, I stripped myself of anything metallic except my earring and buttons. I put all of it in a gray bin and pushed my bag through the machine, after having to wait for several people in wheelchairs to cut in front of me and go through the process.
I went through the scanner fully cooperating and followed the instructions. Yet I was still taken aside as I exited the machine. No warning bells went off like with the old metal detectors, so I thought it might be random.
As I was asked to move aside, a TSA woman said to me: “Do you know you look like Ron Jeremy (the porn star)? I guess you get that a lot.” I replied that I also got “Gene Simmons,” which I preferred. Needless to say, I replied to them in a polite manner despite the inappropriate banter.
They took me aside and did the pat-down, feeling all over my body as is their habit. Then the TSA officer proceeded to feel my stomach as if I were a pregnant woman. He explained that I had a hard patch on my stomach and they wanted to check it and make sure it was all me. It was painful and disturbing.