You guessed it: on my flight back to Washington, passing through Salt Lake Airport, I got picked for a random security screening. (I'm pretty sure this happened because I booked my flight through USAA, and was therefore possibly a dangerous terrorist because I was affiliated with the U.S. military in some nebulous way.) I was told I would have to pass through the backscatter machine (aka the Cavity Search Photo Booth), which I flatly refused. I was then told my only other option was to endure a thorough full-body patdown, which I very unwillingly submitted to -- and that only because I knew that, once singled out for this torture, the TSA would not simply allow me to go through normal security screening procedures and get to my gate. They forced me to make a choice between public humiliation or no flight. So this time I chose what, for me, was the less objectionable form of public humiliation.
My torturer was a short, perky woman who was as swift and professional as circumstances allowed. Which is fine, I guess, if you don't mind being tortured swiftly and professionally. Poke, prod, slide, palpate, "widen your stance, please," lather, rinse, repeat. Oh yes, and be sure to swab my clothes so the drug-sniffing machine can make absolutely sure a 41-year-old middle-class Mormon woman isn't smuggling heroin up her fundament. After the ordeal (which I NATURALLY passed with flying colors), I stated loudly enough for everyone around me to hear, "It's certainly a great comfort to know that I'm not considered a terrorist or a drug dealer." Which probably ensures that I'll be singled out for this torture again in future, but you know what? The TSA can bite me. If they try to do it again, one of three things will happen, depending on what kind of mood I'm in:
1) Mischievous: A very loud faked orgasm that will make that scene from When Harry Met Sally look like an episode of Romper Room.
2) Combative: Before they try to make me choose between The Nekkidifier or The Gropes of Wrath, I will ask, "Would you please specify the reason why I am being singled out for this treatment?" If they tell me the choice was made entirely at random, I will say, "That's unacceptable. U.S. common law is based on presumption of innocence. You are treating me as though you suspect me to be guilty of a crime, so name the offense or let me pass through normal security procedures. If you are singling me out for additional screening, you must have probable cause. If you force me to go through this screening anyway, and when I pass -- not if -- I will immediately contact my lawyer and seek punitive damages against the individual who performed the patdown and against the TSA if at all possible. I will then call all the local news agencies and let them know what happened. I will do everything in my power to ensure this incident will be yet another public relations disaster for your agency. So, now, how would YOU like to proceed?"
3) Fuhgeddaboudit: If I have the luxury of time, I will ask the TSA to provide a full refund of the money I paid for the ticket. If they won't do it, I'll go back to the ticket counter and explain that because the TSA denied me my right to fly, I will require a full refund and, regrettably, will not be flying with that airline again. Then I'll take the money and rent a car or take the train.
I'm not ready to say I won't fly ever again, but every time I go through this crap I'm getting a little bit closer. And this week I took a huge step in that direction, thanks to the goons at the TSA. Thanks, guys!