Before anyone posts “lucky, how dare you discriminate against those with a disability,” hear me out.
I was flying out of Orlando this evening and was directed towards the full body scanner at the TSA checkpoint. As usual I refused and asked for a private pat down instead. After the agent yells “male assist,” a guy comes up to me who is missing an arm. Fair enough, there’s nothing wrong with that. I figured he would get assistance, as they always do, since private screenings require two agents.
When you get a private screening you’re not allowed to touch your bags until the screening is done for obvious reasons, though he carried all of my bags over to the private screening room. He put my laptop bag over his shoulder with the limb, and then clamped the bin with my Macbook between his limb and body, while carrying my 22” carry-on in the other hand. Even those without disabilities usually take two people to carry my stuff over, though this guy had it all. Unfortunately in the process, he placed my very old shoes on my very new Macbook Air, which I really didn’t appreciate. Then again, I didn’t want to be a douche and ask him to carry them separately, given that his hand was full.
We go to a screening room and a supervisor is called over to “observe” the screening, which is always done when requesting a private screening. When you get a pat down they always use gloves, though in this case, he could only wear one glove, again, for obvious reasons. The issue was, he used his limb to pat me down as well! It’s not that I have an issue with him using his limb, but rather that it didn’t have a glove on it, which is required. And I really don’t like people working a checkpoint touching me or any of my belongings without gloves, given how much stuff they touch on a daily basis. At the same time, what could I really say? “Could you put a glove on your limb?” or “Could you please not use your limb?” The guy was incredibly nice, though it was rather awkward as he swooped his limb between my legs and up to my crotch… really caused me to have to spread my legs wide.
Look, I’m all for the TSA hiring those with disabilities and this guy was especially friendly, but couldn’t they distribute labor a bit better? This guy would be much better off working the scanner or being on the other end of the metal detector or full body scanner, as those areas aren’t as physically challenging.
Not only did he delay me by taking more time than otherwise necessary (he worked at about half the pace), but he was touching me without a glove, which I’m never comfortable with (but I didn’t want to make the situation even more awkward), be it a hand or a limb. Beyond that, while he was incredibly nice, he repeatedly complained about his disability as he got up and down on his knee, having forgotten that he has one bad knee. So clearly he wasn’t enjoying it either.
Am I off base to expect all the contact someone has with me to be via gloves, and to maybe think they can make both of our lives easier by assigning him to a more practical position that isn’t as physical, given his disability?