TSA bullies

Much has been made of the woman who was travelling with her 19-month old when TSA threatened to arrest her for “dumping” the water from her boy's sippy cup onto the floor. TSA denies any wrongdoing.

I don't believe them for a second.

I've watched both videos that are posted on the TSA's Web site (under the title “MythBusters”) and it's hard to tell which is my favorite part. Is it thirty-five seconds in, when a TSA agent walking past feints a blow at another agent with his metal-detector wand, and the agent replies in kind with a fist? Is it when the woman passenger's back is to the camera so we can't see whether she dumped out the water on purpose? Is it when the passenger's toddler starts walking off and the TSA agent on duty watches the kid go? Is it the part when airport security has her dig through her bag in the middle of the lane, so that other passengers have to brush past her on both sides? Is it when an “MWAA [Metropolitan Washington Aiports Authority] officer” (per the incident report) picks up the toddler and holds him for many, many minutes while the woman is detained? Is it when a cop AND bicycle cop on one side and a TSA agent on the other flank the woman as she wipes up the spilled water? Or when the TSA agent radios what I assume to be an “all clear” once the passenger has finished wiping up the spilled water? Or three minutes later, when an agent puts a sign in front of the spill and the woman has to clean it up a second time? Or when the woman is made to endure the stares of hundreds of people as they walk past?

No, I think my favorite part is that, try as I might, the 10-minute digital video cannot be rewound to double-check what happened. The buffer “conveniently” skipped over the alleged cup dumping the first time.

I frequently travel with my own 19-month-old. There is nothing more challenging than being a single mom in an airport: fold the stroller so it can fit through the x-ray machine, lift the stroller onto the conveyor belt with one hand while holding a 25+ pound toddler in the other arm so he doesn't run off (while TSA agents watch you struggle), take off your own shoes and the shoes of your child, make sure that there isn't any liquid in any of baby's cups or bottles. It's nervewracking. I'd have dumped the water too: my hands would be shaking too hard to avoid it. In fact, they're shaking now, just thinking about it.

Imagine being detained or arrested while traveling alone with your child. Where would the toddler go? To Family Services? Would you have to go to court to get him back?

TSA thrives to bully women. I know this for a fact. The last time I traveled cross-country with baby (sans Monstro), the TSA agent took one look at my gallon-sized Ziploc bag full of commercially packaged, unopened baby food, and asked me, “Where are you going?”

“To California.”

“Oh, well, this might be a bit much,” he said, motioning to the plethora of baby-food tubs.

Oh yeah, buddy? Have YOU ever traveled across the country without your spouse, finicky toddler in hand?

The first time I traveled alone with the baby, he really was a baby — less than a year old and reliant on baby formula. The formula required warm water; otherwise, the kid wouldn't take it. I had filled the bottles with warm water at home, but was stopped by TSA, who sent it slowest, oldest, portliest agent across the airport to dump out the water, because it was, you know, contraband.

I pled with them not to dump it out. “Look, I'll drink from it to prove it's not anything it shouldn't be.”

“You can buy more water inside the gate,” they said.

“But it won't be warm, and it only works if it's warm.”

They looked at me as if my problem was built solely for their amusement. “Oh well.”

(Naysayers will probably retort that prepared formula can pass through the checkpoint. Well folks, prepared formula is only good for an hour if it's not refrigerated, and it takes me that long to get to the airport.)

The fat-ass TSA guy finally came back with the bottles and then looked at them. “Oh, these are blue baby bottles,” he said. “If they were pink, I wouldn't have had to have dumped out the water.” And then they all laughed at the guy's joke, because it was, you know, so funny.

TSA: Providing employment for fat-ass, brain-dead, high-school dropouts. Yeah, dropouts — the TSA Screener job posting I looked at required applicants to “Have a high school diploma, GED or equivalent; OR Have at least one year of full-time work experience in security work, aviation screener work, or X-ray technician work.”

People, please. This TSA reign of terror takes place every single day at airports around the nation, by a government-sponsored fiefdom that preys on single parents trying to wrangle both toddlers and rules against WATER.

Don't you feel safer now?

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