Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Fliers? Not the Problem

We've all been there--the security line at the airport. I'd be willing to venture that NO line is more dreaded than this one. The lines to get on rides at large amusement parks, like Six Flags or Disney World, are infinitely longer than the airport security line, but I'm not sure any of us ever remember the line--we remember the ride. It is quite the opposite at the airport. At least in my case, I have a much more difficult time remembering the details of the ride--a ride I paid hundreds of dollars for the privilege of traveling on--than I do recalling the security process and the line that process ultimately creates.

I've done far less traveling in recent years, but I've seen the progression of ever-more-ridiculous steps in the security system to where we are today. I remember when we had to start taking our shoes off because of ONE GUY, who never should have been allowed to fly in the first place. I remember when those massively controversial body scanners appeared in airports for the first time because of....gasp...ONE GUY WHO NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED ON A PLANE. Honestly, if our American tax dollars are disappearing in large quantities to fund Intelligence, the least that department can do is keep high risk people off of airplanes. Thus far, their "Do Not Fly" list has only prevented Ted Kennedy from getting from one destination to another.

My heart goes out to this woman because obviously her recent experience with security personnel in an airport caused her a great deal of stress. As annoyed as I am with the screening process as it currently stands, what drives me crazy about this situation isn't the fact that they pat down her hair. There's a big part of me that feels that is pretty ridiculous, but not necessarily a personal violation. The issue is how the security team addressed her:

'Hey you, hey you, ma'am, stop. Stop -- the lady with the hair, you,"

The "lady with the hair?" Seriously? What would you say to anyone else who ever addressed you anywhere like that? Imagine this happened in...a restaurant, a coffee place and a sales associate, who wanted to get your attention, addressed you like that. What would you say?

I'd be absolutely pissed off. And, I think we should be more pissed off about the attitude than the regulation. None of us, at this point, can argue directly with the people who are telling TSA what to screen and how to screen. However, all of us can take issue with how someone is treated, when it is entirely unwarranted, by these so-called security professionals. A lot of people who work on all ends of the airline industry tend to "boo-hoo" it about how customers treat them. I don't know about you, but I've been in customer service for a long time in various ways, and I don't have it any better. What I can say is that as long as I try and treat a customer well, no one can reproach me, and often, a bad customer attitude is gradually muted in the exchange. When I act like a jackass, and we all have our days, that's when I offend a customer and really raise their ire.

If TSA were more customer-service oriented, as opposed to acting like a sector of former-DMV bullies, parents who had their six-year-olds patted down may not have gone to the press and medical patients who pointed out various necessities wouldn't have been embarrassed.

The TSA could probably reduce their appearance in the news by 50% or more if they taught their employees how to behave like human beings working with human beings. I'm not holding out hope for my next trip to the airport.