A Classic Lesson in What NOT to Do
I’ve read about all the people in the news complaining about our nation’s protectors of the air – the TSA. I’ve listened to the fears people have of the dreaded full body scanner, some resorting to alternate means of travel just to avoid enduring a full body pat down. Really I didn’t pay much attention…until yesterday.
Going through security at the Milwaukee airport, I was directed to go through the body scanner. I’ve been through them many times in many airports, and I don’t even think about it. But yesterday, with a pair of simple black pants with no pockets and a fitted, long sleeve shirt on, I stepped forward, put my hands on top of my head and watched the scanner run around the outside of the glass structure. I was scanned. I took my normal position waiting for the TSA (an official looking guy with a wire in his ear) to get the message from the person watching the screening in some undisclosed location.
Next thing I know the TSA official is calling out for additional personnel. I thought for sure he was calling in the heavys because of the person waiting behind me. But then they asked me (who me?) which bags belonged to me. Suddenly, 3 TSA personnel began picking up my things announcing (a little louder than I would have liked) that they were taking them into a private room. It was frankly an embarrassing scene. Then they told me I needed to have a full body pat down (also a little louder than I would have liked). I said, “fine, please do it right here.” But they insisted that I go into the private room with the frosted windows, behind closed doors, for a next level security pat down. I kept thinking –what are they looking for? Well whatever it was – they were determined to find something. There were 2 people in the room observing my pat down in addition to the 1 woman who was the chief patter. She told me exactly what she was going to do which honestly made me want to cry. Every crevice of my body was touched with the back and side of her hands. Every crevice. What were they looking for?
From a business perspective, if you were to watch the TSA rules being enacted, you may think their set of rules misguided, inefficient and extremely inflexible. How about determining a few suspicious locations to pat? I understand that the rules exist because they don’t want the individual TSA personnel making judgment calls. Everyone gets treated by the same set of rules. But that reality didn’t make the lack of flexibility and the over manned private room where, for 7 excruciatingly long minutes, I endured patting and then bomb residue scanning. Surprisingly… nothing was found. Me, the singled out suspect, embarrassingly called out in front of a busy security line, was left to go free.
If someone came into your business and analyzed your rules and systems would they say… ‘That doesn’t make any sense’ or ‘What a waste of staff time’ or ‘Isn’t there a better way to do this?’ Once a year it may be helpful to review your own systems to determine if you continue to have the best, most efficient and complete ways of doing things. You certainly want to make sure that your well-thought-out systems are smarter than the TSA’s, although that’s not much of a benchmark.
After it was all over, in disbelief, I call my husband to tell him about my TSA experience. I was looking for a little sympathy. Instead, he laughs and says, “Hey kids! Mom almost didn’t make it through security!!” Sure, laugh all you want – until it happens to you.