by Delia Quigley
Recently I flew down to Florida for a visit and upon my return was confronted with the TSA choice of radiation exposure with scanner or a body search at the Tampa airport. I was reluctant to expose myself to unnecessary radiation, especially since just flying in an aircraft exposes you to small doses. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average American is exposed to 370 millirem per year. The most common culprits are: medical imaging, cigarettes, air travel, computers, television, and cell phones. When I was signaled to step into the scanner I politely asked for the body search instead and was asked to step across the line and wait for a TSA authority.
I was pointed towards a small square outlined with tape and thought to myself, how bad could this be? Last time I went through an airport and saw someone being searched the guard was waving a wand around the person’s body and the person was smiling. Once in Spain, late and running to catch my flight, I was stopped and searched by a female authority before being allowed on the plane. But that was a quick pat down the sides of my body and under my arms.
This time, however, I looked up to see a hefty, blond gal pulling on rubber gloves as she walked towards me. Uh, oh, I realized too late, Dorothy is no longer in Kansas. Boy, was I right. Standing barefoot with feet spread wide my body was touched from head to toe, front to back, breasts, buttocks and inner thighs. This was in front of lines of people moving past. What the hell was this? I am either to be molested in public or zapped with radiation and there is nothing I can do about it but opt not to fly? This very statement may have erupted from my mouth in a moment of pique, to which the attendant replied, “Just wait until November 1st, honey, it gets worse.” What do you mean, worse than this? And with a rather rude upward thrusting gesture of her hand to show what she meant, the conversations promptly ended.
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The TSA Hustle