Forgive me, TSA
TSA agents are such easy targets. The targets of passengers’ frustration, SNL’s jokes, a steady stream of media stories, and at times, targets for those wanting to score political points. But, it turns out, from what we just saw at LAX, they can be relatively easy targets for someone wanting to kill.
We don’t yet know for sure, and may never know, why Paul Ciancia, the alleged gunman, went after TSA agents. But some of what we know suggests he had strong anti-government feelings that he’s now accused of acting on violently. Anti-government sentiments aren’t rare in this country these days, though most aren’t manifested with violence. But, those feelings, which extend to the TSA, are augmented as people have platforms to constantly highlight and ridicule TSA shortcomings. It has created a narrative: the TSA is the enemy. I, too, unwittingly perpetuate this storyline.
But, here’s what I don’t always point out in my travel tweets: the lovely TSA agent at Hartsfield-Jackson who went out of her way to assist me when I was traveling with my 10-month-old baby girl. Or, the TSA agent who took it upon himself to shuffle me through security when he knew I was at risk of missing my flight. Or, the friendly TSA agent who greeted me with the warmest smile and an enthusiastic, “hey, T.J.!” as I approached the security line at LaGuardia for an early-morning flight last week. Or, the TSA agent who took the time to pull me to the side and talk me through new rules that might help me get through security quicker.
The TSA is easily one of the most mocked and vilified groups in the country. Sure, they brought some of it on themselves with some highly publicized missteps, and they deserve criticism when it’s due and should always be held accountable. But, they can do without one more person (me) piling on. For that, I’m sorry.
Amazingly, somewhere along the way, the people put in place to help us prevent another 9/11 became the bad guys. The incident at LAX should remind us of just how serious the job of a TSA agent is. It’s a matter of life or death.