Monday, August 13, 2012

TSA Owes Us A Baby Gift

My adventures on the road began to get even more interesting than normal once I became pregnant.  I quickly figured out where all the bathrooms were in the airports and buildings I frequent, I spent more time in the airplane bathroom than I ever hoped, a bit of vomit in unfortunate places,  I learned not to wear heals late in a pregnancy and most importantly - I got to know the TSA agents on a very intimate level. So much so, that some of them at the smaller airports started to recognize me.  With all this time spent together, I really thought they'd get baby TB a gift - perhaps even a card.  But I still seem to be waiting.  You may ask why I spent so much time with the TSA during my pregnancy.  Oh, just a little thing called a full body pat down.

The full body scanners have been in use for a while and although I find it a bit disturbing to go through them on a regular basis, I honestly don't have much time to think about it and the thought of a pat down was never very appealing so I just ignored the weirdness of it and went through the machine.  Until I found out I was pregnant.  I figured that I went through the machines 2-4 times a week and perhaps it was time I stopped.  Just in case.  For at least nine months.  For nine months I was touched and rubbed down by TSA agents all over the country while I declined to go through the scanner and asked for a pat down in stead.  The TSA spent the most "intimate" time with me, next to my OB, over the past months - hence why I thought they should get us a card in the very least.  What I found most interesting about this process were some of the responses by the TSA agents when I asked for the voluntary pat down.  Some of my favorites:

At the Baltimore airport: 
Me:  I'd like a pat down please
TSA Agent:  (looking at my face, down to my stomach, back to my face)  Oh.  OK.  I'll call Barbara.  You'll really like her, she's the best one at the pat downs

Hmmmm.  The best?  What does that mean?  More thorough?  I'm not sure I want a more thorough pat down.   And shouldn't you all be really good at your jobs?  And I'm not sure I want to "like" the person who's touching me in front of all these strangers at the airport.  I'd like to get this done, no chit chat and then let's get out of here.  End of story.

At the Sarasota airport:
Me:  I'd like a pat down please
TSA Agent:  (looking at my face, down to my stomach, back to my face)  Oh.  OK.  I'll call Susan.  She used to work at the jail and really knows what she's doing.  She used to do full cavity searches on all the female inmates.

Are you kidding me?  This is not a cavity search.  I don't want 'ol Susan to get a little over zealous and think she's back at the jail.

At practically every airport, every time I asked for a pat down:
Me:  I'd like a pat down please
TSA Agents:  (looking at my face, down to my stomach, back to my face)  You do know this is safe for pregnant women - right?
My internal dialogue:  Oh.  Pardon me.  I didn't realize you have extensively looked at the research with this technology.  Or is that just what your TSA manual tells you to say?  And wait.  There is no research on pregnancy and the new airport scanners because that would be unethical.  And I'm sure in 10 years when they figure out there are some adverse effects, you will personally be responsible for the medical bills because you said this was safe.  Is that right?
My actual response:  (no verbal response, roll of the eyes and then diligently took my place in line for my pat down) 

These were such unpleasant experiences that I suppose I'll just go back to the invasive scanning machine once I start traveling again.  I just can't take a chance on Susan in Sarasota and her full cavity searches.

And on to more baby photos!

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