Wednesday, November 30, 2011

TSA Script: Airport Screeners Scream"Spread 'em!"

Here's something that'll make you think twice when you take that holiday trip.


I've noticed over the last couple of years that the airport screeners  all across our country do something disgusting that could present a health risk for passengers.


Some of us are  selected  for an item by item examination  of the contents of our carry-on. Those who examine  your bags wear those beautiful sky blue industrial gauge rubber gloves in order to protect themselves as they rummage through your belongings.


Here's the problem.


Sometimes the inside of a passenger's bag can be pretty disgusting.


When I was at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., I can remember getting ready to fly home back to Cleveland for the holidays.


I was always running late and figured I could just throw a bunch of dirty laundry in my bag  so mom could help me with her professional touch doing the laundry at home the way laundry ought to be done (as opposed to the disorganized  bachelor style methods I used living on my own).


So it was normal for me to be tossing dirty underwear, soiled socks, and mildewed bath towels into a humongous gym bag I carted off to the  airport.


And I'm sure you've seen the filth inside a bag when someone comes home having done a little camping. Hiking boots that tramped over moose ka-ka sometimes find their way into somebody's American Tourister.


In any case, I  have continued to observe that the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) employees wear those same rubber gloves from one baggage search to another  WITHOUT CHANGING GLOVES BETWEEN SEARCHES.


This means that Mrs. Shtoopenheimer's Chanel No. 6.4  could end up on little Jimmy Butler's blankie.


Residue from Mr. Planter's peanut puffs could  accidentally end up on my nephew's pillow.  My nephew has  a peanut allergy.


           My real  concern is for the gross things that will be transferred from one bag to another.


Remember my bag at  the airport during my college days? No hands plunged into my bag should have ever touched the contents of anyone else's bag without being completely sanitized at high temperature.


The Center for Disease Control lists the transmission of germs by hand to be one of the most significant health hazards that we face. Venereal disease, skin problems, and fecal residue are likely stowaways joining you on your trip to your destination because our government just doesn't give a damn.


James Fortenos, Public Affairs Officer for the TSA,   was kind enough to send me a copy of the official airport screening policy. The screeners have an official policy that does not require changing gloves between luggage searches.


If you want them to put on a fresh pair of gloves, you have to ask.


This is completely unsatisfactory for two reasons.


First of all,  you should never have to ask for something which is a matter of basic health and safety. Can you imagine having to ask the waitress to wash her hands before she handles your food?


 Your local health department would never tolerate this TSA practice were they given jurisdiction over such matters.



Secondly, the entire screening process is often so intimidating that passengers are afraid to request anything out of the ordinary.


 I think most of us are afraid that asking for special treatment  means we'll end up on some kind of list circulated throughout the offices of Homeland Security.


So here's a message to our government: keep your smurfy  latex out of my Samsonite until you establish an official policy requiring fresh gloves before you start rooting through my Fruit of the Looms.


Now that's not too much to ask, is it?

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