As the busiest travel season of the year kicks off, air travelers face their biggest threat yet – the Transportation Security Administration. Forget about window or aisle; this year, we must make a bigger decision: nudity or molestation.
Every would-be air traveler this year faces the possibility of being asked to submit to a full body scan in the name of security. The process uses millimeter wave technology or backscatter radiation to do what those glasses sold in the backs of kids’ magazines have claimed to do for so long – look through a person’s clothes. (The glasses didn’t work, btw, and was I ever disappointed.)
The TSA claims the technology is safe, the scanned images can’t be saved or sent anywhere and their officers will simply look at our blurred bodily outlines – professionally and non-judgmentally – for evidence of dangerous items before giving us thumbs up or down (for clearing security, that is). They say their agents can be trusted completely, which is undoubtedly the reason they do all this in a back room where they face no possible recrimination. Apparently if they looked at our naked bodies right in front of us, it would be a violation of our privacy. They must do so in secret, for our own good.
But fear not – if you fear for your health and/or dignity, it’s possible to opt out of the scanning. All you have to do is accept what’s behind Door Number 2 – an enhanced pat-down. This is allegedly a more aggressive form of the standard pat-down, and couldn’t possibly be considered retribution for refusing to step into their scanning machine. Should you opt for the pat-down, you have another choice – submit to a possibly invasive and humiliating search in public, where the problem is that you have a lot of witnesses, or submit to it in a private room, where the problem is that you have no witnesses.
There have been complaints, of course, and accusations of improper touching. Others have said it’s no worse than receiving a physical from a doctor – and who could possibly find that invasive? Regardless, the aggressive nature of the new pat-down is imperative if an officer is to find dangerous substances on dangerous people, such as three-year-olds and grandmothers.
All of this has led to a bit of an uproar, including the declaration of a “National Opt-Out Day” this Wednesday, Nov. 24 – the heaviest travel day of the year. Surprisingly, it’s not a Hallmark-endorsed holiday. Rather, it seems to be one guy’s personal crusade. I don’t know who started this idea, but his site includes a video of Ron Paul claiming to be fed up, which is sure to lend the guy tons of credibility.
Some proponents of the idea claim this day will convince the TSA to change their policy because it will bog down security and create massive headaches for TSA officers, but why would it? What do they care? They’re going to be there until their shift ends, anyway, so they might as well have a little fun.
Nope, causing delays won’t achieve anything in and of itself. If you really want to have an impact, you’ll provide some additional incentive to keep things moving at an orderly rate. In short, make them want to be done with you. Don’t do anything dangerous or illegal, or you’ll regret it. But with a little well-played passive resistance, you can make them regret you.
Start with sophomoric humor. If you choose to submit to the scan, you’ll have to step into a chamber of sorts. As you do, tap your chest and say, “Beam me up, Scotty!” Then laugh as if it’s the funniest thing you’ve ever heard. If enough people do the same bad joke all day, security be all too glad to stop the process.
A variant on this is to step into the chamber, assume the position with your hands over your head and shout, “Wheeeeeeeeeeee!” at the top of your lungs. Or giggle like Elmo and shout, “That tickles!” Or hold your hand out like an opera singer and let fly with a high ‘C.’ Then look at the walls of the chamber and say, “Damn, I thought I could get them to crack again.”
Too light-natured? Try grabbing your head, closing your eyes and screaming, “Noooo! Stop putting these images in my head! Why are you showing me this?!”
Or bend over, surreptitiously stick your finger down your throat and let the results fly; if enough people vomit onto the chamber floor, that thing’s bound to go out of commission for a little while.
You could also do exactly what you’re supposed to and proceed as if nothing is wrong, but as you step out of the chamber, feel yourself all over and say in a monotone voice, “X-tron-J5 to mother ship – experimental brain transfer to human host was successful; commence full-scale operations immediately.”
For additional fun, before you head to the airport, write messages on your body under your clothing. I suggest, “If you can read this, you’re violating my rights.” You might also try some anatomical references like, “It’s gonna take more than a millimeter wave to measure this monster” or “You’re supposed to look for bombs, not bums.” Or write on various parts that come in pairs. “Right/Left.” “Top/Bottom.” “Front/Back.” “In/Out.” But that’s a little crass.
Then again, if crass is your thing, opting out will give you the opportunity to get gross, up close and personal. Try wearing a kilt – in the traditional manner, with nothing underneath but what God gave you. If they have to frisk enough would-be Scotsmen, they might just be significantly grossed out to change the policy.
Or pretend you enjoy being frisked. After they hit certain spots, ask them to do it again. Guys, before you submit to the search, imagine getting it on with your favorite swimsuit model. Close your eyes and pretend she’s the one patting you down. Then, when your agent gets to the hard part of the pat-down, look down at them, grin and wink. As you leave the room, light up a cigarette and loudly say, “Call me!”
Lastly, there’s one sure way to gross out any TSA agent who crosses the line – pass a strong helping of gas at key points during your pat-down. Since they’re ostensibly looking for explosives in your underpants, you can oblige them by providing some.
If they violate you, you can violate them. And if it’s done correctly, the lesson you teach them will linger long after you’re gone. Is there any more effective incentive to stop the searches?
Think about it – flatulence is free, sustainable and legal. It’s a natural occurrence that understandably happens when we’re nervous or when someone is poking and prodding us. So if we happen to unleash just as they’re focused on that particular region, they can’t blame us. But it’s easy to make happen. I asked a couple of experts.
I have two friends who wish to remain anonymous, but who have in-depth knowledge in the field of forced flatulence. They happen to be brothers and legend has it they used to prepare for family get-togethers – like Thanksgiving dinner – by eating certain gas-inducing foods beforehand. They called it “dosing up” and the only reason they did it was to wreak as much havoc as possible at a happy gathering. That’s nothing more than friendly fire, but I submit that the same tactics would work in a hostile situation. Think of it as gassive resistance.
If you’re onboard with this idea, I want you to do two things. First, share this strategy with everyone you know. You can forward this link or just tell them in person, but get the word out before Wednesday. We can make Opt-Out Day actually work if we provide additional incentive to the TSA to stop. Unleashing flatulence on them should do just that. It might also make the private rooms unusable. Ufortunately, it will also make the airplane cabins unpleasant for their flights, but some causes are worth the sacrifice. Besides, that might have an additional positive consequence. Surely the pilots won’t want to spend their holiday season in those conditions and as we’ve already seen, they have a certain amount of influence on TSA policy.
Secondly, dose up every time you travel. You might need to practice in order to get the timing right; according to the experts, everyone has a different peak that occurs after dosing up, during which their flatulence frequency is optimal. You’ll need to determine which foods are best for you, as well. Of course there are the usual suspects – beans, cabbage, onions. My two friends suggest other culinary culprits, including sweet potatoes, mushrooms, shellfish and sushi. One of them is currently experimenting with broccoli and artichokes, although he says the data is inconclusive as yet. If you’re lactose-intolerant, you should have no problem generating rebellious results by eating yogurt or ice cream just before you head to the airport.
Are you with me? If we don’t push back against this policy, then our only recourse is to just stop flying – and if we do that, then the TSA has already won. Don’t let them cow us into submission.
Dose up, then wait ‘til they’re close up. Effect some change, then change your effects. This will work, America. And before long, we’ll all be able to breathe easy again.