Let the riot be the rhyme of the unheard.
All these months (years?) and I've been wondering what's been bothering me so
much. It finally came to a head, returning from family vacation. All was fine
at the Louis Armstrong International Airport - Frontier is such a great
service! - until we got to the security checkpoint for the C concourse.
Perhaps a little background is in order here. I have never had a good flying
experience at this airport, even back when it was called Moisant International (and thus its FAA designation of MSY) after that crazy Cajun guy who crashed in the swamp. The last time through? They held my two terrified cats inside the X-Ray machine for nearly five minutes and made jokes as the cats yowled in fear. (That doesn't even begin to cover the amount of radiation those two survived.)
My experience with TSA since it took over checkpoint security has been overwhelmingly good. Denver, for example, had horrid security just after 911 (I flew in November 2001). When TSA took over, a whole new squad of professionally trained screeners made traveling from Denver a very pleasant experience. In New Orleans, however, I still recognize faces. They retrained (and I use that term loosely here) the old security people as TSA employees.
As I was saying, all was well on our return trip until we reached the line for the C concourse security checkpoint. As we approached the first TSA agent, we took out our boarding cards and picture ID's. No problems were noted and we were waved through. I was carrying my work laptop with me and as soon as I could, I began breaking out the laptop and back and dumping the contents into bins.
The same TSA agent who had just waved us through walked up and told my wife to go on and then turned to me and said, "Sir, stand against the wall." The tone was threatening; it implied I had done something wrong. I said nothing but stepped out of the line and stood against the nearest wall.
I turned to face a second TSA agent who was working the metal detector line. She appeared confused, as the first agent had - after instructing me to stand out of line - left to return to her post at the front of the line.
At this point, some 10 minutes have passed, and some 30 people have now crossed between me and my wife. When I finally manage to get the attention of the first TSA agent, she looks at me blankly and asks me why I'm just standing there. I tell her because she told me to. She gets this attitude on her face and says something like, "I didn't do no such thing." She then just vaguely waves at me and walks off. I turn back to the second TSA agent who shrugs and motions for me to step through the metal detector. I do, without tripping any alarms.
And TSA #2 waves me into a pen: they had taken one of those two-post tape things they use to make lines for people and attached it to the corner against the wall. So I'm now standing in a place where basically no one can see me and I have nowhere to go.
I wait another ten minutes. As can probably be expected, I am quite irritated at this point, especially given that we were instructed to be at our gate for boarding at 2PM and it was already a few minutes after. I manage to get the attention of a third TSA agent, this one operating the X-Ray machine. I ask her if I need to still wait and she says she doesn't know.
Eventually, a fourth TSA agent approaches and I manage, after much loud shouting of "SIR! SIR! EXCUSE ME TSA SIR!", to get him to ask what's going on. The first TSA agent is summoned, as are the next two, whereupon the first one disavows ever having spoken to me and develops a serious face attitude. I firmly, loudly, explain that she told me, "in so many words," - "Sir, stand against the wall." TSA #4 decides not to believe me and summons what appears to be the official in charge and a cop.
I look at the cop first. He seems bored, just standing by if needed, thumbs hooked on his belt and staring over my head at the lines behind me. A cop. That is where I got seriously pissed. Lots of yelling later (the cop was paying attention now) and the official is spewing some shit about a misunderstanding. I ask if I may go (figuring it's either that, or end up getting arrested after I shove this fucker's TSA ID tag down his throat) and he says I may. I turn to do so but then turn back and tell the official that I want names and ID numbers for all five TSA people involved in the incident, as I am going to report it to TSA in Washington and ensure that they are all dismissed or actually sent to training. He refuses. (Surprise.)
A furious ten or so minutes later and I'm standing on the jetway with my wife when it dawns on me. The reason I've been so bothered lately is that I'm tired of being treated like a fucking criminal in my own goddamned country.
Fuck it, cut the cord.