Johnny Depp at Your Nearest TSA Pat-Down

Can't the whole "search for weapons" be a more enjoyable process?

Lots of people are upset about airport security measures these days. And for good reason, I suppose. Seems to me that the arguments are threefold: too much radiation, pat-downs are tantamount to assault, and pat-downs don’t work. Whether or not they work is something I suppose the average traveler is unable to tell. I hear that the effectiveness of these measures in actually apprehending or deterring terrorists is hard to quantify and, therefore, may be ineffectual all together. Then there’s the abstract by-product of having travelers feel safer even if they’re not and that really benefits only the airlines in the end, right? As for the radiation, I leave that to the scientists. How much is too much? How often is too often? How much radiation is actually emitted from the scanners? Sounds like the answer depends on who you ask. All a muddled issue, to be sure.[SIGNUP]

As for the feelings of violation, again, things seem unclear to me. It sounds like the new and improved pat-down procedure (I haven’t experienced it yet) is slightly more aggressive. They dip into the nooks and crannies of all your “spots” feeling adeptly for weapons of mass destruction. Here’s my thinking on this new procedure: Was the old one no good? Didn’t the wand thing detect metal? It certainly beeped when it passed my underwire. (By the way, a popped underwire can be embarrassing and even painful but I don’t think it qualifies as a WMD). I mean, really, how much more effective is this new search than the old one? That’s what I don’t understand. And, not to be graphic, but until the TSA starts donning rubber gloves, there are certain hiding places that no pat down is going to reveal.

These searches don’t bother me, I’ll be honest, but I can see how someone might not feel comfortable with a giant x-ray of their lumps and bumps up on the screen for a stranger to examine. And I suppose the new pat-down process might be loosely equated with a sexual assault. All of this angst is exacerbated by the inconclusive proof that these methods are successful and useful in detecting terrorism.

So here’s my solution. (Okay, folks, this is all in good fun so no scathing e-mails about my insensitivity, please). Why don’t we switch the male/female thing around? Give me a Johnny Depp look-alike patting down my “junk.” I might go through security two or three times before I head to the plane. I think it would make the whole thing a lot more tolerable, maybe even enjoyable. As for the guys, let’s send them off to the gate with a hitch in their step: Have the women do their pat-downs. “Please stand still, sir. Arms up and to your side. This will just take a second. Oops, what have we here? A WMD?”

“That’s not what my wife thinks.”