Friday, September 28, 2012

Another TSA Officer Busted

Once again, I need to thank the government for giving me a news story ripped from the pages of my novel Full Asylum.

TSA theft
Photo source:

ABC News reports, “According to the TSA, 381 TSA officers have been fired for theft between 2003 and 2012, including 11 so far in this year. ” A friend of mine posted the latest instance on my Facebook timeline this morning: reporters tracked an iPad left at an airport security checkpoint to the home of TSA officer Andy Ramirez. Mr. Ramirez reminded my friend of the character Dora Jarr (get it?) in my book:

      Gimbel now saw why the line moved so slowly. A short brunette security guard made small talk with every passenger about the items in their carry-ons. She wore a blue security uniform and work boots and a rectangular ID hung from a lanyard around her neck. It displayed her name, Dora Jarr, in block letters beneath her picture. She confronted an old lady in a green jogging suit across the inspection table. Several plastic bins, a computer, an air horn, and the contents of the lady’s purse were spread out on the table. The guard questioned the lady about some photos she found in the purse.
      “This is Randy,” the grandmother explained. “He’s my daughter Susan’s oldest. And this is Mitchell, my son Terry’s middle child. He does very well in school. Barry plays Little League. I went to one of his games, but the other team didn’t show up.”
      Gimbel suddenly realized he knew the old woman. It was Mrs. Bentel, his co-contestant on Sorry. Clearly she had recovered completely from her on-air fainting spell. Gimbel fumed as Mrs. Bentel went on about Mindy who plays the flute and Brad who’s into computers. Finally she came to the end of the stack of snapshots. Dora Jarr continued her search.
      “What’s this?” she asked, fingering a circular metal object.
      “Oh, that’s a compact.”
      “Is it gold?”
      “Yes. My husband gave it to me on our last anniversary.”
The guard opened the compact and sniffed the contents. “This powder looks suspicious to me. I’ll have to confiscate it. It might be anthrax.”
Mrs. Bentel protested politely. “Please let me keep it. It has great sentimental value to me.”
      “If you don’t cooperate with the security procedures, I’m going to call the police.”
      “May I speak with your supervisor please?”
      “That’s it! I warned you.” Dora Jarr beckoned to a nearby policeman. After a brief conversation he handcuffed Mrs. Bentel. She started to say something, but then her eyes rolled up and she fell to the floor. The policeman summoned the paramedics over his radio while Dora Jarr tossed the gold compact into a gray plastic bin. The compact joined an heirloom fountain pen (“You could stab someone with that”), three silver necklaces (“You could strangle someone with those”), and a bottle of Moche perfume (“You could start a fire with that”)

Abuse of any position of authority is deplorable, and it’s fun to ridicule people like that. But the next time you’re in the airport, please be polite to the many honest and hardworking TSA agents who are doing the best they can with a really crappy job.

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on

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