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Old 09-23-2010, 08:04 PM
 
Location: Norfolk
1,271 posts, read 1,573,175 times
Reputation: 3805

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This happened to me about two weeks ago. It was so upsetting, that I was not able to write about it or think about it for a few days.

I'm posting this here now so other people will be forewarned and prepared. First, if you're traveling alone - as I often do - opting out of the backscatter x-ray may cost you your wallet and laptop.

If you're traveling with someone, you can have them watch your things while you're taken aside for 45 minutes.

Here's what happened to me:

September 11, 2010, I flew out of Atlanta's airport and ended up in the "random pick" line for the backscatter x-ray. I told the already-scowling TSA attendant that - due to personal and religious beliefs - I wanted to opt out of the backscatter scanner.

She rolled her eyes and told me to step around the machine. In a strident voice, she then screeched (and I mean SCREECHED), "I need a female attendant for a pat down!"

This was my first time dealing with this new technology, but I'd decided months ago that I was NOT going to be microwaved on "medium defrost" *and* have my 51-year-old body ogled by a TSA employee.

So the angry TSA attendant parked me next to the scanner, and I kept looking at the scanning device and wondering (and hoping) that the Plexiglas shroud blocked all the radiation generated by the machine. What a perfect punishment for someone who fears being exposed to whatever health risks: Park them NEXT to the machine so that they get mega-doses.

Meanwhile, my personal belongings hit the end of the conveyor belt, having survived their trip through the x-ray (or whatever it is). But parked in my spot beside the scanner, I could barely see the gray bins containing my brand-new Toshiba laptop, my small leather wallet, my cell phone and my keys.

I literally pleaded with the TSA attendant to allow me to retrieve my personal possessions and she refused. I was traveling alone (as I often do). I then pleaded with her to allow me to at least be in the line of sight of my wallet and cell phone and she again ordered me - again in a loud voice - to remain still. She was demanding, harsh and unyielding.

I kept thinking to myself, "this is what happens when you opt out. You lose your wallet and your laptop. Very, very effective."

I watched the hordes of travelers moving through the "traffic lanes" of the security line, retrieving their personal items and realizing, anyone one of them could easily lift and pocket my things and no one would be the wiser. I was about sick with fear. There were no TSA agents near my belongings. No one watching out for them. All my things just sat at the end of that conveyor belt, about 20-25 feet away from me.

The minutes ticked by. I kept edging over a little more and a little more until I could at least SEE my personal things. The angry TSA agnet would periodically screech, "I need a female attendant for a pat down."

Each time she screeched, I watched dozens of heads turn in the long line, eyeballing the crazy woman who'd been removed from the regular line and set aside. I served as an excellent example. No one else dared opt-out of the scanner.

Dozens of passengers went by as I stood there, moving so close that they literally brushed past me. They'd look sideways at me - some with pity and some with a "what-the-heck-did-you-do" glare. I was forced to remain immediately next to this TSA person. It was truly awful.

I was treated like a criminal and it was a very upsetting experience. Finally, after a 30-minute wait, a female appeared and moved me several feet away to another area. Now, I was closer to my things and could at least keep an eye on them.

Despite this, I was still in plain view, within five or six feet of the main traffic lanes. The attendant started patting me down. She used her palms and fingers, and stroked and touched every piece and part of my body.

Again - it was hugely humiliating - as she rubbed her hands over my groin, my inner thighs, my breasts, etc - right in full view of the traveling public.

Next, she ran a circular pad all over my clothes and then put it in the sniffer. This is where I nearly threw up with fear. You see, I'd worn these jeans last time that I went to the target range to practice shooting my Smith and Wesson .38. Had I washed these jeans since then? I couldn't remember. I knew the gunpowder residue from firing my .38 revolver would show up on that sniffer.

It was terrifying. I was nauseous and started to feel light-headed and faint.

Finally - 45 minutes later, it was over.

The entire affair was very punitive, and humiliating and time consuming and emotionally distressing. When I retrieved my things, I walked into the women's restroom and wept.

Make no mistake - this was intended to be misery. BTW, if I hadn't arrived TWO HOURS EARLY for my flight, I would have missed it.

Rosemary
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Old 09-23-2010, 08:40 PM
 
Location: US Empire, Pac NW
5,009 posts, read 9,382,908 times
Reputation: 4125
First off, the radiation doses are tiny. You get more just by being in the airplane. Also, the images are not saved on any device whatsoever, so it's not like they'll see everything as if you were naked. There's only a vague outline of the clothes and it highlights anything that its image pattern recognition thinks may be dangerous. Everything else is blacked out.

Secondly, I can understand the TSA lady's apprehension in seeing you edge closer to your stuff, AND refuse the scanner. That is VERY VERY suspicious.

Thirdly, you did this at Atlanta, one of the busiest airports in the world. The 45 minute wait was avoidable if you had simply followed the rules. It sucks, I know, but all these measures are in place because of the crazies.

And the TSA is technically correct - you CAN opt out of the scanner. You have just to accept the consequences, as all free societies foist on their civilians.
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Old 09-23-2010, 09:53 PM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,348 posts, read 74,099,784 times
Reputation: 17096
I'd bet 98% of people, male or female, wouldn't get nearly as emotional or upset, frazzled or paranoid like the original poster, though the 45 minute wait would be annoying as hell.
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Old 09-23-2010, 11:34 PM
 
Location: San Diego
5,029 posts, read 11,732,533 times
Reputation: 4791
Sorry for your harrowing experience! If that was me, I'd miss my flight. I get to the airport no more than an hour before my flight leaves, since my home airport is tiny and the security lines are nonexistent.

My home airport recently began using these machines, but luckily only in select lines so I know which lines to avoid. I don't mind the actual machines, but as you mentioned, I do travel alone frequently and don't want to leave my Macbook, DSLR with several lensese, and iPhone unattended at the end of the conveyor belt while I go through the machine. That's thousands of dollars worth of electronic equipment right there and I'd be very upset if someone stole it. If I travel with my husband, it doesn't really matter which line we're in.
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Old 09-24-2010, 03:12 AM
 
Location: Norfolk
1,271 posts, read 1,573,175 times
Reputation: 3805
Quote:
I'd bet 98% of people, male or female, wouldn't get nearly as emotional or upset, frazzled or paranoid like the original poster
I bet you're wrong.

Glad to hear that you wouldn't be worried if your brand new laptop was out in the public (out of your watchful eye), for anyone to pick up and walk off with. Glad to hear you wouldn't worry about doing the same thing with your wallet and cell phone.

That was *one* of many elements that was very disturbing about this whole thing.

Glad to hear you're one of those stalwart, unflappable types, but for the Average Jane Citizen (and Joe Citizen too, I suspect), being treated like a bomb-wielding terrorist - just because you opt out of the scanner - is very, very upsetting.

Rose
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Old 09-24-2010, 07:25 AM
 
Location: MMU->ABE->ATL->ASH
8,078 posts, read 12,934,901 times
Reputation: 7937
I would file a complaint with the TSA Atlanta manager. They only act on complaints, Also they should have secured your belongs off the Belt to a secure location, and sent all of them thru seconday inspection. That could be your plan. Get sent to seconday and your partner pick up your bags and goes off and plants the bomb....
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Old 09-24-2010, 09:27 AM
 
Location: Cape Coral Fl
12,069 posts, read 21,481,933 times
Reputation: 8901
Most of those TSA agents are glorified baggage handlers, rude, obnoxious and just think who the hell they are.....the rude ones far out number nice pleasant ones
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Old 09-24-2010, 09:59 AM
 
9,593 posts, read 14,787,750 times
Reputation: 12960
I would opt for any safely maintained machine rather than to be patted down. Who wants to be publically groped when you can simply move through a machine? Which is more evasive or humiliating? I would think pat downs.

During the occasional gate checks where they pull people out for pat downs before boarding, I purposely try to disrupt the useless TSA pat downs by requesting they change there gloves, which they are required to do. Who cares, my seat is already reserved and to watch those idiots fumble looking for new gloves is entertaining.

For your situation, fill out a complaint with TSA.
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Old 09-24-2010, 11:30 AM
 
133 posts, read 470,482 times
Reputation: 213
The way they treated you was a bit out of line. But there are times when people are a bit too emotional over things. This seems like one of those times.

Medium defrost? Over Reaction. Small doses. If you're that concerned please stop using a microwave or any other device that emits radiation. I can't even believe you would fly....do you know how much radiation you are exposed to over the average person?

Oogling at a 51 year old body? Sorry but I doubt they would care......and why would you even care? It's a body, everyone has one.
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Old 09-24-2010, 11:49 AM
 
Location: Colorado
4,307 posts, read 10,401,141 times
Reputation: 4345
Quote:
Originally Posted by RosemaryT View Post
This happened to me about two weeks ago. It was so upsetting, that I was not able to write about it or think about it for a few days.

I'm posting this here now so other people will be forewarned and prepared. First, if you're traveling alone - as I often do - opting out of the backscatter x-ray may cost you your wallet and laptop.

If you're traveling with someone, you can have them watch your things while you're taken aside for 45 minutes.

Here's what happened to me:

September 11, 2010, I flew out of Atlanta's airport and ended up in the "random pick" line for the backscatter x-ray. I told the already-scowling TSA attendant that - due to personal and religious beliefs - I wanted to opt out of the backscatter scanner.

She rolled her eyes and told me to step around the machine. In a strident voice, she then screeched (and I mean SCREECHED), "I need a female attendant for a pat down!"

This was my first time dealing with this new technology, but I'd decided months ago that I was NOT going to be microwaved on "medium defrost" *and* have my 51-year-old body ogled by a TSA employee.

So the angry TSA attendant parked me next to the scanner, and I kept looking at the scanning device and wondering (and hoping) that the Plexiglas shroud blocked all the radiation generated by the machine. What a perfect punishment for someone who fears being exposed to whatever health risks: Park them NEXT to the machine so that they get mega-doses.

Meanwhile, my personal belongings hit the end of the conveyor belt, having survived their trip through the x-ray (or whatever it is). But parked in my spot beside the scanner, I could barely see the gray bins containing my brand-new Toshiba laptop, my small leather wallet, my cell phone and my keys.

I literally pleaded with the TSA attendant to allow me to retrieve my personal possessions and she refused. I was traveling alone (as I often do). I then pleaded with her to allow me to at least be in the line of sight of my wallet and cell phone and she again ordered me - again in a loud voice - to remain still. She was demanding, harsh and unyielding.

I kept thinking to myself, "this is what happens when you opt out. You lose your wallet and your laptop. Very, very effective."

I watched the hordes of travelers moving through the "traffic lanes" of the security line, retrieving their personal items and realizing, anyone one of them could easily lift and pocket my things and no one would be the wiser. I was about sick with fear. There were no TSA agents near my belongings. No one watching out for them. All my things just sat at the end of that conveyor belt, about 20-25 feet away from me.

The minutes ticked by. I kept edging over a little more and a little more until I could at least SEE my personal things. The angry TSA agnet would periodically screech, "I need a female attendant for a pat down."

Each time she screeched, I watched dozens of heads turn in the long line, eyeballing the crazy woman who'd been removed from the regular line and set aside. I served as an excellent example. No one else dared opt-out of the scanner.

Dozens of passengers went by as I stood there, moving so close that they literally brushed past me. They'd look sideways at me - some with pity and some with a "what-the-heck-did-you-do" glare. I was forced to remain immediately next to this TSA person. It was truly awful.

I was treated like a criminal and it was a very upsetting experience. Finally, after a 30-minute wait, a female appeared and moved me several feet away to another area. Now, I was closer to my things and could at least keep an eye on them.

Despite this, I was still in plain view, within five or six feet of the main traffic lanes. The attendant started patting me down. She used her palms and fingers, and stroked and touched every piece and part of my body.

Again - it was hugely humiliating - as she rubbed her hands over my groin, my inner thighs, my breasts, etc - right in full view of the traveling public.

Next, she ran a circular pad all over my clothes and then put it in the sniffer. This is where I nearly threw up with fear. You see, I'd worn these jeans last time that I went to the target range to practice shooting my Smith and Wesson .38. Had I washed these jeans since then? I couldn't remember. I knew the gunpowder residue from firing my .38 revolver would show up on that sniffer.

It was terrifying. I was nauseous and started to feel light-headed and faint.

Finally - 45 minutes later, it was over.

The entire affair was very punitive, and humiliating and time consuming and emotionally distressing. When I retrieved my things, I walked into the women's restroom and wept.

Make no mistake - this was intended to be misery. BTW, if I hadn't arrived TWO HOURS EARLY for my flight, I would have missed it.

Rosemary
On the one hand, I do think you have good reason to file a complaint with the TSA as this person's behaviour was obviously designed to cause you maximum humiliation. On the other hand, why on earth would you fly wearing jeans that you'd been wearing to a gun range?! If you were going to refuse the scanner then surely you knew they'd scan or pat you down so why wear jeans that would get you into trouble?! Sorry - but I got no sympathy for you in that matter.

And I don't mean to sound flippant but if anyone really wants to ogle my middle-aged bod, have at it!
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