Thank your TSA Agent this Holiday Season

by Emily Jasper on December 21, 2010

I may be living in the academic bubble, but I’m well aware of the fact that TSA agents have had it rough for a while thanks to the new pat-downs. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that manners are on a huge decline (based on personal observation), and we’re all self-centered.

Take a moment this holiday season and think about someone who’s been trying to protect us by just doing his job.

Thank you DCA TSA agents. You were the most pleasant and speedy agents I have ever encountered. You all smiled as people were trying to negotiate the bins, and you were friendly in reminding people that they needed to remove sweaters and bulky clothing. You also reminded them well enough in advance that those of us ready to go weren’t waiting. Even if you’re ready to never see another sprig of holly or glittery star again, you all replied back to greetings of “Happy Holidays.” You even said, “Thank you” back to me after I stacked my bins.

During a time of year when stress is at the most high, you all made a difference in my day. Thank you for being great agents and protecting our safety.

I’m a frequent flier, and I’ve nailed down my airport routine down to the type of shoes I wear to make the security check point easier. It’s important to me to be a prepared as I go through the line because I know that there are so many details to catch. If I can help by being ready and efficient, I know I’m one less worry for those agents. Yet I’m amazed at the people who seem to have slept through the last nine years…what, you want my shoes off? Jacket, too? What do you mean liquids have to fit in this plastic baggie?

Yes, there are people out there who have no idea what to do when they travel. And apparently asking them to do a little research (as in read the million signs around them) is too much. So we all get frustrated when we end up behind, next to, or in the general vicinity of these people.

I know people have been offended by the invasion of space from the pat-downs, but people have been taking travel stress out on TSA agents for years. If you waited behind the six-bin traveler, when all you want to do is load your carry-on and shoes on the belt, you’re already in a huff. You’re mad at that previous traveler, but what little influence polite society has on you may lead you not to say anything to that traveler. But you sure take it out on the agent who needs to run your bag again.

Kind of like in police shows, if you didn’t do anything wrong, I never understand why people won’t cooperate. These agents are doing their jobs, so hold up your end of the bargain.

Unfortunately, some of the lack of respect for agents may also come from the perceived notion that there is minimal threat. There are many threats we don’t know about, including the ones of every day people who just had too much to drink at the airport bar and became disruptive on the flight. Think of those action-packed movies and TV shows where someone has to save the day before the bomb goes off. Only those immediately involved know anything happened, or in this case, didn’t happen. That’s what the TSA agents are trying to do. Make sure we know that nothing is happening.

If you are traveling, even if things are stressful, take a quick breath and cool down before you take travel anger out on a TSA agent. Wish them a “Happy Holidays” and know we’ll all be a little safer this New Year.