Fall in line, everybody. It doesn't matter if you think you're being worked over by people who were fired by Wal-Mart, we have people with guns here.
The two examiners in the testing room, however, put on a small real-world 'guvmint-bot vs. human-hold-out passion play.
One wore her cop-looking State Examiner patch on her sleeve in every possible way, barking at applicants and moving with a majestic swagger belying the More Twinkies than Training tale told by her Humpty Dumpty frame. The other took great pains to be polite and disarming and simply got on with the business of testing license candidates. Her manner seemed willed, as if to counterbalance the hard-case pose of Barnameana Fife.
This Andy Griffith Show plays out in many public-contact government situations, but Andy is usually off in Mount Pilot, leaving Barney to mangle the public good will.
This week we salute the wise, funny, revealing blogging presence of the Transportation Security Administration, the just-a-url-away "Andy" for any Barney Fife you might to encounter on your travels.
These folks make blogging for the organization that has become the face of post-9/11 overreaching look easy.
There are no awkward, patronizing bureaucrat-who's-been-to-Toastmasters tones here -- just straight talk delivered with a wry grin that at first blush might look like the too-charming patter of a well-orchestrated PR campaign. Until you see what the TSA picks out of luggage, pockets, and persons with some regularity between cellphone cameos of little girls being traumatized for life by pat-downs.
Twelve-hundred firearms in 2011. Stun guns disguised as lipstick, as cell phones ... and as stun guns. Martial arts knives. Plain 'ol stabbin' knives. Inert land mines. Souvenir pieces of C4. And while the threat classification may be murky, there are often guys with exotic birds stuffed in their pants.
If you're of the mind that government types can easily make up wild contraband stories to justify their continued existence, be our guest, but this blogger would like to point out that just last night a fellow got arrested for drunk driving here in town and called his drunk father for a ride home. The lawmen noticed that the father was drunk after he arrived at their station via the front lawn.
Making stuff up to prove the world is off its tilt is often a waste of time these days.
A few best-of TSA Blog pull-quotes:
-- Gassed Up Chainsaw: Believe it or not, the chainsaw found at Elmira (ELM) was not [a] problem. You can travel with your chainsaw as checked luggage, however, gassing it up is the problem. You know ... Gas? (1/13/2012)
-- A passenger opted out of the body scanner at Buffalo (BUF) and during the pat-down, a 9” nonmetallic serrated knife was found in his pants pocket. The passenger stated later that he opted out of the body scanner because he was trying to get the knife through security ... (12/17/2011)
-- I’m sure you’ve heard the “What’s In Your Wallet” commercials… Well, a frustrated passenger at Boston (BOS) stated he had a bomb in his wallet. The police ended up citing the passenger, so while there was no actual bomb in his wallet, there is now less cash ... (12/9/2011)
And then there's Cupcakegate.
All the witty blog posts in the world will never excuse the occasional Barney Fife who shows up on your screening line (never mind the one who swipes your stuff), but this blog provides an astute summary of the TSA's role at U.S. airports a decade after the world was changed with box cutters and a plan. And as heart-warmingly funny as Grandmas with Grenades are, we hear the rubber-gloved ones are even still on the lookout for terrorists.