A Valentine (Overdue)

For a long time — years, actually — I’ve wanted to write something about the TSA. I’d like to write about them now. I have no particular “hook” — it’s just that I’ve been traveling a lot lately, and I want to check this item off my to-do list, or to-write list.

TSA workers are one of the most unpopular groups in America, I guess. I see them slammed a lot (in print). You often read horror stories about miscreant TSA workers. And we should see those stories, of course.

I must say, though, that I have long been impressed with the TSA. I see them in action two to eight times a month, I guess. I find them consistently professional — competent, good-natured, poised, efficient, friendly. Their task is, in a sense, thankless. People don’t like our airport-security procedures, and they transfer this dislike to the people who carry them out. I’m not sure what airport security should be, but I do know that someone has to implement the rules, whatever they are at a given time.

Also, think what the TSA has to deal with: a tetchy, stressed, often loutish public. Travelers ought to stand for a day, or five minutes, in TSA shoes. There are appalling TSA workers, no doubt. But, man, are there appalling members of the public.

Furthermore — this may sound a little lefty — I like the “diversity” of TSA workers. (My fingers wince to type that word.) I thought of this yesterday, when I noticed a couple of TSA men who were older than the usual working age. Wiry, diligent guys, taking evident pride in their job. TSA workers are young and old, black and white, male and female. I like to see them talk to one another. It’s an American scene, I think.

My experiences are almost always pleasant, or at least unremarkable. Now that I’ve written this note, I’ll probably have a string of lousy experiences. But what I’ve said here will still be true. TSA workers are sometimes broad-brushed as Leninist molesters. There are those who travel more than I, but that picture does not comport with reality as I have observed it.

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