I was introduced to a new blog yesterday, “Taking Sense Away,” ostensibly written by a former employee of the Transportation Security Administration. Also described by my dad as “Thousands Standing Around,” this is the government agency we all know an love for being very good at preventing transportation from taking place and securing us against just about everything except the terrorism it was meant to prevent.
Thursday’s post, which is the one that brought me to the blog, was about how TSA employees feel about working for the most despised government agency in the country. This title used to go to the IRS, but I would argue that the TSA, especially for frequent travelers, easily wins this battle because they are always there, finding new ways to degrade your sense of humanity in public. The IRS just takes a cut of your pay and does it silently and automatically, before your pay stub even reaches your mailbox. I can do my tax return myself each year in an afternoon, and it’s actually quite satisfying to complete it. When I exit a TSA security checkpoint, regardless of whether I chose to opt out that day, I’m usually in a cold sweat with my pulse racing.
I don’t think there was actually much surprising to learn about how the TSA’s employees feel about working there. I mean, as much as I despise the TSA and think its employees are enablers, they are people like you and I who need a job. And as much as I may question their judgment in picking that particular job, they’re not stupid.
They know what we say in the lines, grumbling about this or that. They can probably think up the same arguments themselves. They don’t need us to tell them how pointless it is to do an intensive screen on an elderly grandmother or a cancer patient. And while the government may come up with these bizarre surveys claiming the majority of Americans think the TSA is doing a good job, I do wonder about the accuracy of those statistics having never come across a single person who preferred the TSA keep doing what it’s doing.
So, no, I’m not saying you’ll learn much, but I did find the narrative amusing. I’ll share a few quotes and encourage you to go check out the blog yourself if you feel like learning more about the Transportation Security Administration from an insider’s perspective, and how most employees are trying to escape.
TSA higher-ups know that the public either doesn’t care about what the TSA does, at best, or despises them, at worst … and it certainly doesn’t help that the members … know that they are at a bottom-of-the-barrel agency, and probably want to transfer the hell out of the agency to somewhere more respectable, ASAP.
On the floor, screeners also know that the public is either ambivalent or hostile toward them. In general, the screeners do what people naturally do: order the situation into an Us vs. Them dynamic.
I’ve known a few screeners who went from TSA on to the FBI, and who assured me that they pretty much have to do their best to hide their previous employer from their new FBI buddies in much the same way that a child molester tries to hide his crime from prison mates. TSA is the laughing stock of America’s security apparatus, which will come as no surprise to anyone.