As a former employee of the Transportation Security Administration, I know that the Department of Homeland “false sense of” Security is a big, costly joke. I had moved to Los Angeles in 2002 and was looking for a job. I wanted to pursue my dream of manuscript writing, and make a movie. Reality check! I needed to get a job to pay the rent. My friend told me about the TSA hiring, so I went with him to take the test, and it was all very unimportant for me. Actually, my friend wanted to work there more than I did, however I got the job offer and he didn’t. I had heard in the news that many American applicants had been failing the test, but I breezed through the thing thinking I didn’t really care much about the job anyhow. The same day as the test I got a preliminary job offer. Great, I had a job. A nice job, with government benefits, and a thrift savings plan. About two months passed and I finally got the definite call back that we would be starting work next week. I showed up at the airport hotel the following week for my security training. One full week for eight hours a day, and I was ready to protect my country. The government had wisely spent tax dollars on renting out the entire floor of an upscale hotel to conduct the training. They turned hotel rooms into classrooms. Everyone in my class of about 15 was fairly normal, however there was one guy who looked like a doped up gangster rapper, and he was late to class everyday. We all thought that he wouldn’t pass the training class, but we were all wrong. Seeing him pass the training class spoke volumes of what was ahead of us. The following week we went into the airport for our practical training. The week went well, however there was a distinct lack of organization and too many chiefs, not enough Indians.
I started out at my first airport terminal the following week. My supervisor was a 19 year old who, on the first day, announced that she was proud to be “ghetto”. She definitely had the attitude to match, and absolutely no sense of professionalism. She would use her “authority” to have us bring her friends through the checkpoint without being screened. Basically we would have to screen Madonna, because that was TSA policy, but someone like her sweetie from the parking garage could just pass right through. I know it was wrong and I complained about it, but I then became the bad guy and the target of her extreme disrespect. The point is that a 19 year old should not be in that position. Not only did she not know what the heck she was doing, but also she was the leader of former military personnel, and retired police officers who got into the TSA thinking it was going to be some great new security agency. A mysterious letter was written to the heads of the airport about her, and it was pinned on me. Of course I had to be the letter writer because I was the only one who was verbal about her misconduct, but I wasn’t.
So I got moved to my next terminal. Everything was great at first, but that quickly changed. We had to deal with the most obnoxious, rebellious youth I had ever seen. I should tell you that I was a junior supervisor at the agency, which is why I had to “deal” with these people as part of my duties. These kids, some of them just 18 years old, adult age, but not really by Los Angeles standards, were highly unprofessional. They would curse constantly in front of passengers, and not even do the basics of there job. This means they would not really checks suspicious bags, or they would let passengers that alarmed the metal detector get through because they were too busy talking to another agent that also wasn’t paying attention. They would go on and on about their sex lives, and harass women passengers coming through; asking for telephone numbers, and telling girls that they are so “sweet”, “hot”, “sexy”. Every time I would tell them to do something they would argue with me. It was a nightmare to do my job. Actually, I couldn’t do it. Another point was that the TSA hired half the amount of women as it did men, so there were days when I had to do my supervisory job and be a screener all day because they were so short staffed by females. There I was trying to run my checkpoint, control the uncontrollable youth, and secure passengers goods. Too many jobs to provide any real security. I would complain constantly to my supervisors, but they were useless. I was even told by one of my senior supervisors, “You need to be very careful in how you treat Black people because they have special human rights.” Could you scream? There are not racial biases or special treatment when you are providing national security.
These supervisors were useless and totally out of touch. While I worked in this terminal one of the supervisors was investigated and fired because he had been selling overtime. He targeted a specific group of people, but eventually one of them turned him in. What he would do was take a little cash from the subordinate and then mark them on the time sheet for having worked a bunch of over time hours. Let me tell you how silly the agency is, they didn’t fire any of the employees that were getting the big paychecks full of overtime. America’s tax dollars hard at work. It turned out that the girl who had turned him in was also investigated and ultimately fired as well. She was a junior supervisor, like me, and she had been selling sex to her subordinates on her coffee and lunch breaks. Her car parked in short-term parking, across from the terminal, was the spot for rendezvous. Again, none of her Johns were fired. In comparison, another junior supervisor was fired on the spot for cursing in front of the terminal manager. Classically TSA stupid was that, because cursing was the mildest of offenses. I made a big stink about all the problems and the lack of security, but they fell on deaf ears. I did write a letter to the top dogs this time, and caused the whole terminal to be brought under investigation. I was becoming notorious for complaining, and got transferred again to another terminal.
This time, however, I got to pick the terminal I went to. I chose to work with a Supervisor I had gone through training with, and he was very professional, and so was the whole crew. I did encounter more problems though. The terminal only had one supervisor, and on his off days they needed a fill in. Since the TSA didn’t hire correctly for each position, they had a regular security screener doing a supervisors job. Here I was as the only junior supervisor in the terminal, and you would think that now I would be the one filling in on the senior supervisors day off, but no. I had become well-known as a whistle blower, and they wanted me to suffer. There I was being led two days a week by someone who was my subordinate the other five days of the week. Well, this adjunct supervisor gave me a real hard time on those two days. It was a real power trip for him. Could I complain anymore about the stupidity? I did, but nobody listened. Eventually he was fired too because the TSA finally ran the background checks, after a year, on their employees. A lot of people, a.k.a. criminals, got fired all of a sudden and we were really short staffed. The fill-in-supervisor, as it turns out, had a laundry list of criminal activity, which he told us about the day he got fired. We found out that the TSA had to be investigated by Internal Affairs because thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise had been stolen from passengers. These federal security agents were grabbing cell phones, jewelry, cash, credit cards, etc. from passengers when they weren’t looking. You would think I would be happy with the clean up they were finally doing, but I really had the attitude that enough was enough and I took my scheduled vacation and never went back to that job. The Federal Security Director of LAX suddenly resigned when Internal Affairs came snooping around his out-of-control airport. I went back into teaching, and a year later I dropped in on the TSA website and found that the snake who couldn’t control his airport, the Federal Security Director, had been promoted to some cushy position in D.C. Politics as usual with the US tax payer footing the bill. TSA got absorbed into the whole Department of Homeland Security, and from what I understand from friends that remained working at LAX, things haven’t gotten much better. Why exactly did Tom Ridge resign from Homeland Security? He probably knew what a disaster it was and didn’t want to be responsible for the next 9/11.