Saturday morning came to soon for me as I my taxi made it’s way from The Hard Rock Hotel To San Diego’s Airport. It had been an amazing and jam packed three days at The 2011 Roche Social Media Summit and I didn’t want to leave.
Plus, I was tired, and the very thought of an almost 6 hour flight made me queasy - As did the thought of traveling with diabetes & previous TSA encounters.
I checked my bags and received my boarding pass at curbside check-in, and then I dragged my feet and carry-on over to security and mentally tried to prepare myself for the whole insulin pump TSA interrogation that would most certainly occur.
Just one day earlier on Friday, as the Roche Social Media Summit was in it’s last hour, I re-tweeted the following tweet:
The story of that poor woman, whose only crimes were her advanced age & declining health had me sick to my stomach. It made me think about my mother's fragile health and my own “insulin pump/TSA issues.”
And it made me angry! As I stood in line preparing myself mentally to be interrogated, it was that poor woman I was thinking of.
I was surprised how quick my turn came up and I put my shoes, laptop, carry-on, etc .in bins & then onto a conveyor belt. Then I walked through the security gate thing, and was immediately pulled over.
TSA Dude: IS that an insulin pump
Me: Yes it is.
TSA Dude: Well, you know I’m going to have to get a female security to give you a pat-down.
Me: Um, no you’re not. My pump (a 512 medtronic minimed - yes, you read right, a 512- YES, I suffer from Insulin Pump Purchase Anxiety ) has no metal parts so there’s no reason for a pat down. And even if it did have metal parts, it's still ridiculous & goes against my civil rights under the American With Disabilities Act.
Feel free to swab the pump and my hands, like they do at every other airport in the country, but you’re not patting me down.
TSA Dude then began to have a series of powwows with 3 different TSA employees regarding the best way to handle my insulin- pump contraband.
TSA Dude: Well...... You can have the female security pat you down.....or you can walk through the full body scanner.
Me: She's not patting me down and I’m not walking through the full metal body scanner.
- If it damages my pump in anyway - I’m screwed.
- I don’t need to give a free peep show. If you’re going to see all my lucky charms - so to speak, then you can buy me dinner first!
TSA Dude: You can’t see anything. FYI, he sounded both annoyed & hurt at that accusation.
Me: Yeah, actually you can.
God, I only wish I’d read THIS article before our exchange, because then I could have mentioned TSA Dude's co-worker’s unfortunate genitalia size and the fact that yes, you can indeed see EVERYTHING.
Then TSA Dude had me go over to the side, and then TSA Dude proceeded to swab my hands & my insulin pump, and then he told me I could retrieve my things.
Me: So, we’re done, then?
TSA Dude: Yeah, it’s just next time you should really just go through the full body scanner - It's easier for everyone.
Me: It's not easier for me!
At that point, I could either continue arguing my point & continue to prove him wrong, (but as far as I was concerned, I'd won) or I could get my things and grab a much needed cup of coffee.
I walked away and started to retrieve my things from the conveyor belt - Then, I noticed the woman who had been behind me in line had been pulled aside for her medical device. This woman, a breast cancer survivor who no longer had any lymph-nodes on her right side, was wearing a compression device so her arm wouldn’t swell up.
This was apparently the first time she’d ever experienced the TSA welcome wagon & she was scared & annoyed.
I heard her say to the TSA Chick: Look, I’m not going through the full body scanner with this and you’re not patting me down.
I’m going to assume that there was no metal parts, because TSA Chick ended up swabbing the device & the woman it was attached to.
When Survivor Woman’s ordeal was done, she and I looked at one another as we put our shoes on and said: You deal with this every time you travel?
Me: Yep, 9 times out of 10 - And it’s bullshit! My guy didn’t even know the rules and he was literally making them up as he was going along!
Survivor Woman: They have to figure this out!
Me: Agreed & no shit - This is ridiculous! I’m all for safety, but I’m also for respecting the person who medically needs assistance. Making an elderly woman remove her diaper & giving those of us with medical devices so much crap is WRONG.
Seriously TSA, if you want your jobs to be easier, respect the people who you are both protecting and interrogating - We are one in the same after all! And for god-sakes TSA, know the rules of engagement!