Rudeness At Our Borders, Why?

From NPR’s Morning Edition March 6, 2009 : “A Canadian man was crossing the border into Washington state when an inspector told him to turn off his car. Desiderio Fortunato replied, in effect: “Say please.” The inspector repeated his order. The Canadian still expected him to say please. The Canadian was blinded by pepper spray, dragged out of his car, handcuffed and detained for three hours.”

Last year my wife and I were passing through the TSA gauntlet at National Airport outside DC, when we came upon a tableau of four armed, angry TSA guys running one of those electric wands over a seated blond little boy. He looked about eight years old and he was crying. He also looked very scared. Oh, and he only spoke French. His parents were being kept away from him off to the side by another couple of “agents”. The father looked angry, the mother, well, you can imagine how the mother looked. Anyway, while we gathered our belongings at the far end of the X-ray machine the wand finally located the source of all the beeping, a pack of gum with an aluminum foil wrapper.

In 2006 we returned to our cruise ship in Port Canaveral after touring the space center. In front of us in the TSA line was an old WWII veteran. The wand guy was going up and down the old guy’s legs as the thing beeped. The fellow was repeatedly explaining that he had steel rods in his legs due to a war injury. “They don’t come out, son.” He kept saying. He was wearing shorts and tennis shoes, no socks. We got through and went onboard. The wand guy was still going over the old guy’s legs, What new result he was expecting I have no idea.

Last fall we took one of those leaf watching cruises to New England and Canada. When we landed in St. John, New Brunswick, our first Canadian port, we were greeted by a blue uniformed policeman,( I don’t think he was a mountie, don’t mounties wear red?), who welcomed us to Canada. Then there was a singer backed by a boombox singing pop tunes and each passenger was given a gift. The ladies each got a rose, the men, a St. John lapel pin. No one was rude, no one pulled us out of line and shoved us up against a wall, no one accused us of being terrorists, no one searched us. Everyone smiled at us and seemed pleased that we were there.

We could tell immediately that we were in a foreign country.

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L P O'Neil

Does TSA have a blog where you could post these observations? If not, they should have one. I have similar stories and worse — a toddler in diapers taken from his mother for strip search because the child’s name was similar to a name on the infamous no-fly list.

Ed Albetski

They do have a way to send reports to their management, not a blog where what you write can be viewed by the public. I posted there after an incident in Memphis. Basically I got a “thank you for your input” form letter e-mail back from them. Luckily I was seated next to a TSA supervisor at a dinner sometime later. She was polite, charming, and very interested in the public’s reaction to their screeners. More may have come from that chance meeting. I definitely got more satisfaction.

Ed Albetski

Yes, but it is a moderated blog and the welcome comments must be comments about what the TSA bloggers post. They delete off topic posts. Thus this is not a forum for how TSA does it’s job. From their website:
“We welcome your comments on postings at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) “Evolution of Security” blog. Comments submitted to the TSA blog will be reviewed before posting.
This is a moderated blog, and TSA retains the discretion to determine which comments it will post and which it will not. We expect all contributors to be respectful. We will not post comments that contain personal attacks of any kind; refer to Federal Civil Service employees by name; contain offensive terms that target specific ethnic or racial groups, or vulgar language. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly off topic or that promote services or products.”