America is in uproar – well at least 20% of the population. And like most minorities they are a vociferous lot, promising to add to the mayhem of travelling on Thanksgiving weekend. America moves at Thanksgiving – north, south, east and west and all points in between so they can get ‘home’ for the turkey and the football. Remember the film Trains, Planes and Automobiles starring Steve Martin and John Candy? Well that movie is a true depiction of all railway stations, bus termini and airport concourses, add unpredictable weather and chaos ensues.
If you have a choice of travel mode tomorrow I would suggest car, train or bus because an army of protesters are getting ready to disrupt the already interminably slow security lines at airports. And why? Because they do not want to stand in a body scan machine which projects an image of you naked as the day you were born. If you choose not to stand on the designated foot outlines, helpfully placed in the scanner, with your arms in the air you will be subjected to an intimate pat down. And intimate it now is. Jiggly bits are encircled or felt, legs and arms are smoothed over and backs and bellies stroked.
The scanner takes moments, the face of both the viewer and the one being viewed is not seen by either party, unless the technician viewing the image already happens to know your private lumps and bumps intimately, and what are the chances of that? And let’s face it, the reality for any woman who has had a well-woman check up or produced a child, is that there is very little that intimidates as far as the general feel down. There is little more disconcerting than lying on a table with feet in stirrups while various people peer between your legs.
I happen to have numerous titanium rods and thirty-two metal screws in my back. They tend to set alarms ringing on the regular metal detectors and, no matter that I carry a letter from my surgeon attesting to that fact, I regularly stand, arms akimbo, as someone views my body image. I have a sensitive back and object strongly to anyone touching it, not least because I am likely to strike out if I’m patted too hard, and in this day and age may well be locked up for an involuntary movement.
I, like most of the travelling public, have become stultified to the indignities of travel. I despise the few terrorists who have managed to create a worldwide sense of fear and suspicion, which I suppose is what terror is all about. But I also shake my head at those who say sanctimoniously that by allowing these public invasions of our privacy we will be safe and secure. What rubbish! There are no guarantees.
And if these security measures are to be implemented nationwide, and worldwide, then everyone should be subjected to them. No exceptions. And that means the pilots and those who choose to wear the abaya and either niqab or burqa.
I am hoping that the objecting parents of teens will allow their offspring to choose for themselves which form of TSA indignity to go through. There would be little more mortifying for a pubescent teen, whose hormones are in full flow and whose sensitivities are gargantuan, to be publicly patted down. And I would hope parents, whose frustration levels might be high, would not subject their children to an upper body strip as was witnessed at Salt Lake City when one child, unsure of how to proceed having set off a metal detector, and shy about the proposed pat down would not raise his arms. The anxiety of the child and the slowness of the security procedures prompted the father to rip his son’s shirt from his back.
But you know America is the land of the enterprising. Tungsten lined underwear, featuring fig leaves, is now available from an entrepreneur in Colorado. An offer that promises to protect both your dignity from the prying eyes of Big Brother, and to minimise the chance of radiation exposure.
Should you in your outrage continue to refuse to submit your body to any kind of search you will not be permitted to fly, and will be taken away and questioned. I imagine not particularly politely. When you consider how much our governments know about us already, it seems an awful lot of brouhaha over a picture momentarily on a screen, though admittedly the TSA did manage to let some images slip out of their grasp. Perhaps they need to update their security.
With all these added horrors to wholesale travel I’ve decided to forget the tungsten bra and knickers and get in my car and drive down the road to Galveston for my turkey!