Noticing things I never noticed before must be some function of getting older. Or maybe it’s just a way of seeing a slight erosion of egotism through a different lens. Whatever the case, when I was standing at JFK 2 weeks ago, going through all those silly screenings, such as required by our DHS, I couldn’t help but notice that the TSA workers nearest me were a bunch of assholes.
There was the Pakistani granny confused by the apathetic instructions delivered in poorly enunciated English. There was the family smiling in benign bewilderment at the government workers pushing them around, getting progressively louder and ruder with each miscomprehension.
Between the rows of x-ray conveyer belts and endless security lines there’s a poster proclaiming that TSA employees are often the first cultural ambassadors to our visitors from around the world, serving proudly to represent city and nation in a courteous and professional manner. There was little of that on display at Terminal 8.
Flight screeners, no doubt socially impaired in part by the daily stream of droning drudgery and seemingly idiotic passengers, always seem one minor aggravation away from snapping and choking a foreign salesman with the leather belt it took him five prompts to remove, or bonking someone on the head with his shoe.
Their brothers and sisters in the immigration and passport control booths, as I learned on the way back, were not much better at welcoming our international guests. They muttered, barked, and beckoned dismissively and, at times, passive-aggressively, at people, with no sense of cheer, curiosity, or assurance. They might as well have been price-scanning baby clothes at a Kmart.