Monday, January 31, 2011

The "Pat down"

I opted out of the full body scan today. The line at SeaTac at 8 AM was surprisingly nonexistent as I was the only person in the ID line prior to the X-Ray machines.

For those of you unaware of the layout at SeaTac main security check point allow a brief overview. Two conveyor belts converge on one traditional walk through X-Ray. The type that has been around for many years. Something was different today, I could feel it.

Today was my first encounter with the much debated full body X-Ray machines. I chose the shortest conveyor line not noticing that my destination was the full body machine. However, the line to my left was heading towards the traditional walk-thru. I almost switched lanes, but figured I would just chance it. I also assumed that since both were going, if you opt out of the full body, they would just have you take the walk thru. I could not have been more wrong.

Once I informed the female TSA employee I was opting out, she read me a small paragraph of how the next 5-7 minutes of my life would transpire. Of course, leaving out the key point that it would take an additional 5-7 minutes. As I am waiting on the outside of both X-Ray machines as the words "male assist" are echoed throughout the security point I took note of how other travelers were directed. I notice only one person being put through the full body, while others are still able to use the walk thru. What gives? I meant to ask but was uncertain if that would draw more attention. Hell, even the women running the other bag scanning X-ray machine was laughing at the term "male assist"...or I think that is what she was laughing at.

A friendly TSA gentleman escorted me to an unattended point in the security point to perform the dreaded "pat down". He offered me the option for a private room pat down, but I stuck with my choice of having this performed in-front of everyone. The humorous part of this journey for me was the TSA employee had to carry all of my stuff. It was not a lot as this was a day trip, but it did consist of a backpack, stinky shoes, and 2 bins of assorted electronics. I am not sure if he did this out of kindness or that I could take my stuff and run.

As he applied his rubber gloves to his hands, he informs of me of how the procedure is going to unfold. He talks of how he is going to check me for airline contraband and the manner to which is hands will be used. This is all fine and dandy.

Small talk was prevalent during this 1-2 minute process. Questions like "Where are you going today?" was the common theme. It quickly turned to a topic of stock options with Microsoft, from the early years, and if we would be working today. (Not sure how we got on that topic, I was distracted. Perhaps because I said I work in software and he jumped to Microsoft. It is almost as bad as when you tell someone you are from Montana and they ask "Do you know John?") But I digress. There was no groping or grabbing of ones junk. However, I will say they are not shy about the inner thigh region. They do get right up in there where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. After the encounter, pleasantries were exchanged and I was allowed to gather me things and be on my way.

If the line was long and/or I was running late for my pre-flight coffee prior to my flight, I probably would have just gone ahead with scan. However, I do feel that I am blasted with enough cancer causing rays in my day so I am not in a hurry to add anymore. It was not a miserable experience, the worst part was probably waiting for someone to come get me so I could go on about my day.

For my next trip I plan on starting in the walk thru line, regardless of length, to see if I am chosen at random for the full body. I will be sure to provide a detailed blog of that exciting event.


1 comment:

Bill said...

If "radiation" is the reason you are opting out:

"TSA has set their dose limit to ensure a person receives less radiation from one scan with a TSA general-use x-ray security system than from 2 minutes of airline flight."

Source: http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/SecuritySystems/ucm227201.htm

I opt for the scan and give a hearty "Enjoy the show!" when stepping in :)

--Bill