TSA Agents Find 7 Snakes In A Man's Pants, And More Airport Tales
"I've had it with these mother******* snakes on this mother******* plane!"
Fortunately, no snakes have ever swarmed a real-life airborne plane, requiring Samuel Jackson to save the day, like he did in the 2006 action-thriller "Snakes on a Plane." But there was a close call, according to Bob Burns, a social media analyst for the Transportation Administration Agency (and former TSA officer), who's been manning the agency's blog since 2008. In August last year, he wrote about one man at Miami International Airport, who tried to get through security with seven small snakes, as well as three turtles, hidden in woman's hosiery in his pants.
But most of the contraband that TSA agents confiscate, as Burns recounts in his "TSA Week in Review," is more dangerous, and less alive. Since December, agents have found three cannonballs, multiple inert hand grenades, a live teargas grenade, a grenade launcher, a cattle prod, a chainsaw, an antique firearm, a 2-foot machete, a stun gun disguised as lipstick, a knife disguised as lipstick, an abandoned bag with $22,000 inside, and two fantasy knives that "come in handy when slaying various mythological creatures."
There are also a lot of unfantastic knives, which have been hidden in hairbrushes, shoes and bags of pretzels. There are also razors, concealed in the linings of bags, or taped to the bottom of shoes. And of course, there's been a whole host of loaded firearms.
TSA agents get a lot of heat for purportedly strip-searching children and grandmas, and forcing hot girls to walk through body scanners for kicks. But Burns tries to dispel the myths, and his dispatches support the notion that TSA agents are working hard. For every stun gun that slips through the cracks, there are hundreds of loaded 9mm pistols that don't.
TSA agents also have to put up with some excitable passengers, such as one woman at Orlando International Airport. After she was told her container of olive oil exceeded the size limit, she reportedly opened the bottle and poured it over herself and the officer.
In a post-9/11 world, as our country wrestles with the tradeoff between security and freedom, TSA officers are right there at the center of it: enforcing the rules, and taking the grief. It's a high stress position. There are few jobs where a careless oversight could have more tragic consequences.
Despite this, agents never seem to succumb to Samuel Jackson-style outbursts. Well, except for this guy.
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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