Coming back from last week’s AAAS 2011 Annual Meeting in Washington D.C., some of my classmates and I went through Dulles International Airport. After a fun, but stressful, three-day meeting, I was ready to come home. But as airport security herded my fellow travelers and I towards the metal detectors, I wound up facing those controversial full body scanners.
Not everyone got scanned. Other lines subjected passengers to the good old metal detector.
This really didn’t seem fair or effective to me. If someone wanted to bring materials through security that a metal detector wouldn’t catch, but that a full body scanner would, they could just walk over to a different line.
The TSA insists that going through the new scanners is optional, but I didn’t notice any signs or placards to that effect, nor did any of the security personnel give me a choice. To be fair, there could have been signs that I just didn’t notice. Either way, in I went.
I felt a little foolish, standing there with my arms up as photons patted me down. One of the TSA employees kept admonishing me like I was a little child not to move. I heard you the first time lady.
After the machine finished its strip search, I turned to walk on. But security had stopped the man in front of me for further examination. I was forced to stand about two feet behind him as a male TSA employee asked him to pull up his shirt so that the employee could frisk the waistband of his pants.
Aren’t they supposed to take you behind a privacy screen before they do that? I didn’t want to go through that machine in the first place, let alone stand ringside as someone got frisked half naked.
They finally sent him on his way and the TSA employee ditched the gloves he was wearing. But before I got the go-ahead to continue to my gate, the employee put on a fresh pair of gloves and approached me.
Oh, no. There was no way I was going to let some strange man touch me. Thankfully, we only stared at each other for several seconds before he waved me through.
Blech…I wanted to take a shower. I kept hearing all the arguments people have been shouting at each other since these contraptions came out. They don’t store images – oh yes they do. The technology is harmless – some scientists aren’t so sure. This will make us safer – no, not really.
However it eventually shakes out, the bottom line is that it’s an invasion and I don’t like it. Even if identifying marks on the scans are obscured or done away with, as in the new software the TSA is testing, somewhere out there, a naked, x-ray image of me is floating around. Not a happy thought.