I glanced quickly at my Southwest Airlines ticket stub as I was heading through security at Providence’s TF Green Airport today only to realize that I had the dreaded checkerboard on my ticket. I had been selected for what the TSA calls additional screening.
So at Gate 17, when they call for the “selectees”, I mosy up to the TSA folks, hand over my bag, and get checked with the wand…
About this time, one of the TSA screeners, with my keyring in hand, shouts out, “What’s this?” and looks at me.
I realize that she’s holding up the handcuff key that I keep on my keyring – and have kept ever since attending college in Illinois for criminal justice. It’s been on there through my time in law enforcement and has remained there thoroughout the past decade of my life in corporate security. No one has ever brought attention to it before.
I say, “It’s a handcuff key”.
She replies, “Are you a police officer?”
Now, about this time I’m getting angry. I am fairly confident that no where in the TSA’s screening regulations that a handcuff key is listed as a prohibited item. I’ll know for sure when I get back. And, I can hardly hear her over the rest of the crowd.
“Could you come over here?”, I say. “I don’t hear well.”
She moves closer and I explain the reason for the keys.
While I get a weird look from her, the reason seems to suffice, and she puts my keys back into my backpack, and I later board the plane. I did write down her name and badge number as her attitude – towards other passengers and myself – was just downright nasty.
The more disturbing thing about this was watching who had been selected for screening. Three young women, all around 20 – 25 years of age, and then a group of 7 or 8 women clearly in their 50’s and 60’s, with one well over 70… and me. None of us had to fit any funky profile, and certainly none of us was toting anything.
Besides, if we had been carrying something, wouldn’t it have been picked up when we went through initial screening.
Additional screening as a security practice still leaves much to be desired – and so does the customer service of the TSA.
I’ll be writing a letter to the TSA about this particular screener.