I got thoroughly groped again!

As I don’t have TSA PreCheck status on my flight from Kona to Honolulu, I had to stand with the herd and go through the regular security checkpoint.  I took off my metal belt buckle (leaving on my leather belt), removed everything from my pockets, and dutifully put my liquids and computer (out of its case) on the screening belt. I didn’t remove my shoes, as they were tennis shoes without a lick of metal in them.

But no dice. The TSA guy asked me, and not politely, to take off my shoes. Fine. But then, after I went through the See-You-Naked machine, I heard the beep behind me—the dreaded beep that spells Trouble and Groping.

Sure enough, there were yellow patches on my upper arm and—you guessed it—on my groin AND both buttocks. I was in for it. The TSA man then explained to me that he’d have to grope me there and asked if I wanted a private screening. I said “no”. He asked me if I had anything in my pocket. I said “no” again.

He then proceeded to sexually violate me, running his hands over my genitals, under the waistband of my belt, and then palpated each buttock. This time I did feel violated. Not only that, but they made me remove my leather belt (sans metal) and examined it carefully.

To add insult to injury, they then swabbed my hands and checked them in the Do-You-Have-Explosives machine.

After all that, I got a “you’re good to go”.  I didn’t hear, “Sorry I had to grope you mate—just following orders.”

I still don’t know why my body always has those yellow patches that get me groped (this never happens when I go through TSA PreCheck). One woman I talked to, who also got groped, said I should have told the agent that I had shrapnel in my body.

Frankly, I’m tired of this security theater. My shoes would have been flagged had they had metal or anything suspicious in them, and why did they make me take off a strip of leather around my waist? This is security theater, plain and simple, and is one reason why I signed up with TSA PreCheck. And why are the agents never polite? Does TSA like to hire people who like to exert power over helpless citizens?

So it goes. On the way back to the mainland I’m flying under PreCheck, so this nonsense won’t happen. After all, I am a Trusted Traveler.

48 Comments

  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 6, 2019 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    The Trump administration no doubt has you on a secret harass-on-sight list of known political subversives. (It would be irresponsible not to speculate.)

    Count your blessings you didn’t get dragged into the back room for bastinado and waterboarding.

    • Posted July 6, 2019 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      Speaking of the Trump administration, let’s not overlook the Orange One’s campaign slogan: “Make America Grope Again.”

  2. Liz
    Posted July 6, 2019 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    They should really do this so that everyone feels relaxed when it’s happening. “Excuse me sir while we gently take off your belt.” It’s the least they can do. Hope it’s all good now.

    • Posted July 6, 2019 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      How about “Excuse me while I caress your genitals and buttocks”? Somehow, I don’t think that would help.

  3. John Conoboy
    Posted July 6, 2019 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    You should have had pre-check for any flight within the US. Airline may have screwed up.

    TSA is indeed staffed with disfunctional employees, but we also have to remember that it was contract airport screeners who let the 911 hijackers get on planes with box cutters, so I doubt there is a solution to this nonsense.

    On a recent flight out of Dallas my wife was held up for a long time because they claimed her camera had set off an alarm. This is the same camera that has gone through many screenings over they years and around the world, many of which were at the same airport. We waited and waited for the security “expert” who had to inspect the camera. After a long wait he showed up, looked at the camera and said, “Oh, these are nice cameras, I have on just like it.”

    • Posted July 6, 2019 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      Sometimes they are really pretty good at spotting unusual things. On my last flight I had a backpack full of very intimidating giant camera lenses. The x-ray checker flagged my pack and an inspector said there was just one little lens that was causing the problem and that they needed to look at. She said this lens looked as if it was solid and appeared black on the x-ray. It was a special lens made of unusual glasses designed for making semiconductors, probably with unusually large amounts of lead and other stuff that might have blocked the x-rays. That was a good call.

      Then again there was the time I went from Quito to Schipol with a foot-long dagger in my carry-on backpack. The lady at Schipol was very nice about it.

      • Liz
        Posted July 6, 2019 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

        I’m living for a 400 mm lens right now. My 250 mm is good now because it’s good practice getting close to birds and sometimes other wildlife.

      • Alexander Hellemans
        Posted July 7, 2019 at 4:04 am | Permalink

        “Sometimes they are really pretty good at spotting unusual things.”

        Indeed they do! Once I had to put my wallet, keys, shoes, belt, and change in a box. When I got the box back, after passing the metal detector, I checked my wallet and put om my shoes, and checked that I didn’t leave anything in the box. Only when I was boarding the plane I felt there was something weird about my pants, and sure, the expensive leather belt I just was given by my wife for my birthday was missing.

  4. C. Cabeza
    Posted July 6, 2019 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    This will teach you not to tangle with the Witnesses!

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 6, 2019 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    The hell of it all is that they are solving nothing and preventing nothing. How many terrorist have ever been caught on a flight from the big Island to Honolulu? How many bombs? How many planes blown up. It is ridiculous. It would be like finding a nuclear bomb in a preschool. Yes, the kids are always working on those things right after nap time.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted July 6, 2019 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      What is likely to take down the airplane today is someone attempting to recharge their battery for the phone or lap top or whatever. Yesterday, a plane headed for London had to land in Boston due to a fire, causes by a battery charging. I would stop all of that stuff on a plane and they just say oh well, a few fires.

  6. Posted July 6, 2019 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    My sympathy. These machines give false positives often. Were you wearing jeans? I now wear cotton sweat pants and have had no problem.

    • Liz
      Posted July 6, 2019 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      This is funny because I was just thinking about that song for cotton an hour or two ago. “The touch, the feel of cotton. The fabric of our lives.” I like cotton fabrics.

    • Posted July 6, 2019 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      No, I was wearing my Rohan polyamide travel pants. It happens no matter what I’m wearing. I just have nether regions that set off detectors!

      • JB
        Posted July 6, 2019 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

        This happens to me too, Jerry. Constantly. I pull my pants wayyyy up (with my belt already off) and this seems to slightly improve my odds, but I still get violated 50% of the time, and not gently.

        Honestly even if they had a robot pat-down machine I would still object. I want to be in charge of who/what presses against my groin region. Is that not ok?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 7, 2019 at 8:05 am | Permalink

        That’s so weird. It would be interesting to understand why the machine gives false positives. I have so much scar tissue from from both radiation damage and a mean ballet teacher that I figured my whole body would light up but so far so good.

  7. GBJames
    Posted July 6, 2019 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    My fake hip means I always have to go through the seeyounaked machine. And it shows yellow patches every time. I, too, am a “trusted traveler”, FWIW B

    • Liz
      Posted July 6, 2019 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      Wait. Are you in your 30s?

      • GBJames
        Posted July 6, 2019 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        Nope. You’re off 30 or 40 years! 😉

        • Liz
          Posted July 6, 2019 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

          Ha! My goodness. I thought the other day you were probably late 30s or early 40s. I don’t know why. We all should meet soon. I would love to. Maybe 2021.

          • GBJames
            Posted July 6, 2019 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

            It is my youthful good looks and charm. Fools everyone.

        • Posted July 6, 2019 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

          Once you are 75 you get some considerations apparently, but I figure I won’t be traveling that much then.

          • Liz
            Posted July 6, 2019 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

            You are 75, too? My heart is collapsing. I want to meet you all. Don’t leave me. : )

            • Posted July 6, 2019 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

              Nooo, not yet. But when I get there, I can air travel without removing my shoes.

              • Liz
                Posted July 6, 2019 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

                Oh, okay.

          • Bob
            Posted July 7, 2019 at 7:18 am | Permalink

            Being 75 means nothing. I will be 81 in three weeks, am a retired US Army officer with a 100% VA disability rating, white male with two metal knees. I always have to take my shoes, belt, hat, and coat and stand in the naked body machine and am groped in every airport in the US and Europe I have ever gone through.

    • Liz
      Posted July 6, 2019 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      I actually was going to revise the above post and it posted. I was just curious.

  8. Posted July 6, 2019 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    I just did a search for airport scanners and yellow patches. It is a common problem, and seems attributed to various causes. To me that means [shrugs shoulders].

  9. Scott
    Posted July 6, 2019 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Much like Dr. Coyne, I’ve had a history of getting rear-end pats and crotch gropes in the security line. Last December, I set off a machine and received a vigorous crotch pat down after which, feeling a bit shaken, I left my laptop in the security line. About 20 minutes later I noted it missing and proceeded back to security to retrieve it. The officers were very nice, tracked it down, and escorted me to the TSA lost and found office to retrieve it. Unfortunately, the TSA lost and found office was outside the security area. Despite my protests that I’d been escorted by an officer during the entire trip to lost and found, I was put in line to be re-screened. Like a prisoner approaching the electric chair, I entered the machine a second time, heard it go off, and received a second vigorous rub down of the nether regions.

    After this horrid experience, I asked the officer if he could explain what set the machine off so that I could avoid this experience in the future. He told me that the metal snaps inside my jeans probably set the machine off, which he explained frequently happens when thin people wear jeans through security. He suggested that I wear pants with no metal in them to avoid setting off the machine. Since then, I’ve worn sweatpants or snap-free shorts when I fly, and thus far I’ve avoided subsequent pat downs (n of two round trip flights).

    • Tom B
      Posted July 6, 2019 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      As a single man in my the mid 40’s I can guarantee that if you manage to dress in a way that does not offend the machines you will be “randomly chosen” for “enhanced screening” and be groped anyway. My current game is to try to say something that makes the gropers equally uncomfortable, Asking for a hug afterwards has gotten the best results so far but I am open to suggestions.

      • Liz
        Posted July 6, 2019 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

        You put a capital after a comma.

        • Tom B
          Posted July 6, 2019 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

          Apologies, cell phone makes typing a trick.

          • Liz
            Posted July 6, 2019 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

            Understood.

        • Tom B
          Posted July 6, 2019 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

          And really, if you want to give grammar grief, I think the “in my the mid” gaff is very mucher more fertiler ground.

  10. Laurance
    Posted July 6, 2019 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Ask me why I don’t fly anywhere! The last time I was on a plane was 1989 or 1990. Flying nowadays sounds like torture to me!

    First you go through all this humiliating and intimidating crap, then you get on a modern plane. I’m told that planes nowadays are not as comfortable as they were back in the ’80’s and early ’90’s, that seats are smaller and more cramped. And what about meals? I have heard that no food is provided on some flights.

    I’m old, and I don’t know that I intend to go to any really faraway places. Ithaca NY is the farthest place I’ve gone lately, and I drive. I want to go to Pittsburgh one of these days…

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted July 7, 2019 at 2:44 am | Permalink

      Just avoid flying via the USA (of course if you live there you’re out of luck).

      I used to share your aversion to flying. But since I’ve experienced Air France, Cathay Pacific, Etihad and Emirates A340’s and A380’s I’ve changed my mind.

      cr

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted July 7, 2019 at 3:12 am | Permalink

      In practical terms, websites like Seatguru list the width and spacing of seats for most aircraft types and airlines. This might give you an option on some routes.

      cr

  11. Posted July 6, 2019 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Do you have any tattoos Jerry? Some inks contain metal, which I assume could fool the machines.

    • GBJames
      Posted July 7, 2019 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      The see-you-naked machines aren’t detecting metal. I think they are detecting background radiation. I suppose tattoos might trigger this. I suspect scar tissue does.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 7, 2019 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        It’s Jerry’s big buttock spanning tattoo of Darwin that must be setting off the machines! 😆

  12. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted July 7, 2019 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    The TSA is the reason why, when booking a flight from NZ to Europe, I fly via Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong or Singapore. I don’t even consider flying via the US. (It’s the same distance both ways).

    cr

  13. Stephen Mynett
    Posted July 7, 2019 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    Having a replacement knee and needing to use crutches some of the time means I get searched every time I fly. I do not have a problem with this as it is necessary but I do have a problem with the attitude of a lot of security people.

    Heathrow London is one of the worst airports by far, although I have never been to America so cannot compare it to the airports there.

    What does annoy me is often there are several of us waiting for a pat-search and we are standing around while two or more security people are stood doing nothing. Every time I ask why one of them cannot search me I am told it is because we are different sexes. My reply is along the lines that as a haemophiliac I have been in and out of hospitals most of my life and many women, either doctors or nurses have had far more intimate contact with me than a simple pat search, so why is it a problem for the security people to search me.

    Have never had a sensible answer.

    On a less serious note and an experience at an airport I enjoyed as it appealed to my sense of the ridiculous.

    I always tell the security people that my metal knee will set the alarm off, just out of politeness and most appreciate the gesture, although the standard response at Heathrow is: “Its are job and we will search you anyway,” always said in an aggressive way.

    At Changi, Singapore, the security guy not only thanked me for warning them but after the search ran ahead to get my jacket off the conveyor and then held it to help me on with it. It was a very nice and much appreciated gesture but it still looked a little strange as he had an AK47 or some other high-powered gun strapped to his back. The mixture of politeness, helpfulness, friendliness and a machine gun seemed highly incongruous.

    • Posted July 7, 2019 at 5:39 am | Permalink

      I live in the U.K. and I have been to the US a few times, and I can honestly say that nothing compares to Heathrow: it is -the- worst airport I’ve ever passed through. The staff are ruthless, unpleasant and petulant—to the extent where I think the flight connections re-screening facility should be used as a field site for anthropology students to see how proto-fascism takes root and is perpetuated. I try to avoid flying through there if at all possible.

    • Posted July 7, 2019 at 5:39 am | Permalink

      I live in the U.K. and I have been to the US a few times, and I can honestly say that nothing compares to Heathrow: it is -the- worst airport I’ve ever passed through. The staff are ruthless, unpleasant and petulant—to the extent where I think the flight connections re-screening facility should be used as a field site for anthropology students to see how proto-fascism takes root and is perpetuated. I try to avoid flying through there if at all possible.

  14. Hempenstein
    Posted July 7, 2019 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Just remember that things would be a lot worse but not for George Washington’s victory at Dulles Airport in 1776.

  15. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 7, 2019 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Just think of yourself as a female within 50 feet of Trump and run like hell.

  16. Posted July 7, 2019 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    why are the agents never polite?

    I’d probably start getting pretty impolite with people if I had to feel up 500 men’s genitalia every day and only because some politician wants a bit of security theatre so they can pretend they are doing something.

  17. ginger
    Posted July 7, 2019 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I get groped every time I fly. Even after standing in the see-you-nekkid machine, a TSA agent informs me that I have been “selected” for an additional pat down. She will then feel me up and down and send me on my way, all in the name of freedom.

    I never realized that I look so threatening.


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