"Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish." - John Jakes

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Opting Out At The Airport

When I first heard about the new scanners in airports I knew right away I would never do it unless I was forced to. It's not that I cared about the nude xray images that would be produced (though I really don't like that), it was more that they couldn't prove that the radiation levels emitted from the scanners were safe and I want no part of that.

Of course the other option is opting out of the scanner and enduring a pat down. This involves a security person rubbing their hands over your body, including your private areas. The horror stories you hear about the pat downs is enough to make anyone squirm. From asking to opt out of the scanner and the security people hollering "opt out" over & over like you were some kind of criminal, to people with medical conditions like catheters being roughly pated causing the urine to leak out all over them. Still even with the stories I want nothing to do with the machines and will take the risk.

When we first moved from Hawaii I warned my husband of this and that it might take longer for me to go through security(he didn't care either way). We had to go through security twice, once when in Hawaii and once when leaving Atlanta. Both times they had the regular metal detectors and the scanners open, & each time I got in line for the regular detectors. I got lucky each time and didn't get selected for the scanners(though Charlie did once).

But I knew I wasn't out of the woods yet, I was still traveling with my mother to California to see my sister return home from Afghanistan. I warned her about the possible delay too and she just told me to do the scanner, I told her I would not. In Tampa all they had open were the scanners so I put my carry ons on the belt and waited for my turn. With a pounding heart it came to be my turn and I told the women I would be opting out... I waited for the worst.

It never really came

She kinda seemed annoyed but she quietly spoke into her earpiece that they had an opt out and told me to stand to the side. Another women walked up to me after a bit and opened the gate to the other side of security. She asked if I would like to go to a private room or was it fine right where we were, I was fine doing it in public(if nothing else it let others see what was happening, witnesses if you will). She explained step by step what she was going to do then asked me if I understood, I said yes. She was very professional throughout the whole thing and didn't stay near my private parts for longer than needed. After she was done she tested her gloves for any traces of explosives and let me on my way. The whole experience itself wasn't that bad at all.

When we left San Diego we had to go through security again and they also only had the scanners open. I again opted out and choose the public option over the private room. While the Tampa lady was a lot nicer(the lady in San Diego seemed annoyed that she actually had to do her job, go figure) she was just as professional & I never once felt uncomfortable or mistreated.

I can only hope that from my experience people won't be as afraid of the pat down process and won't endure the scanners just cause of fear. Sure there are bad experiences/stories but there are normal experiences out there too. Next time I fly I'll opt out again, only risking the scanners if I'm being forced against my will.

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