Because even though Sacramento's airport doesn't have the porn-scanners that show your naked form to TSA officials, I know San Diego's airport does. And we all know the choice that is faced at airports like San Diego: Porn scan, or enhanced patdown. After all, it was at San Diego's airport where the famous "Don't touch my junk" guy introduced a new catchphrase to the American lexicon. When I ran the scenario in my mind about what to do if faced with that choice, I tended to place myself in that predicament. For whatever reason, it just seemed logical that I would be the chosen one for this 4th Amendment-busting treatment.
Fast forward to New Year's Day, 2011; which, at this writing, is still yesterday. My wife, kids, and I approached the TSA agents at the x-rays and metal detectors. Like good proles, we dutifully emptied our pockets and removed our shoes. My wife was the first through the metal detector, and it beep-beep-beeped. She was sent back through to try again, removing her watch and necklace and handing it to me first. She went back through again, and it beep-beep-beeped. She was sent back to try again. This time, there was nothing left to take off or out of her pockets. She walked through the detector a third time, and it beep-beep-beeped again. By this time, my wife was getting flustered. She was pretty sure the underwire in her bra was setting off the metal detector, but she began rightly wondering why that same bra didn't set off the detectors in Sacramento. But her fluster was mostly caused by what she knew was coming next.
Now, in the past, the security official would have wanded my wife with a hand-held metal detector, it would have beeped in the underwire area, and that would have been it. Not in Barack Obama and Janet Napolitano's America. Instead, we were ushered to a side area where a female TSA agent had my wife assume the arms-up position with which we are all now familiar, and proceeded to conduct the enhanced patdown with which we are all familiar.
It was just like you have all seen in news reports and YouTube videos: Just about every inch of my wife's body was checked. The agent used the back of her hands to check the chest area, and most uncomfortable part was the below the waist check. The agent didn't just go up the legs and stop when she reached no more room to go up; she went across the front of my wife's unmentionable area, and then worked her way down.
Meanwhile, my wife had a look that was one part humiliation, and one part resignation. I guess the saving grace is that the TSA agent had the same look as my wife. I got the feeling that this was not what the agent signed up for.
When it was over, I asked my wife if she was OK. She was a good sport about it, and said that if she would have done anything differently, she would have requested a private room. She said the patdown itself wasn't as bad as the fact that it was being conducted in front of God and everybody. It also bothered her that our kids had to watch it. I would have loved to have the kids go elsewhere, but I would have had to go with them, and there was no way I was leaving my wife by herself. After we took a seat near our gate, I made a point of talking with our kids about what they had witnessed, and planted the seed in their minds that this is not the way things are supposed to be at the airport or in our society, and that once upon a time, things were indeed not that way.
So, quite the way to ring in the new year, eh? A sad little glimpse of 2011 America.
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson