Saturday, October 29, 2011

Humorless TSA To Fire Note-Drafting Screener

A TSA screener who left a friendly note for a female passenger traveling with a checked sex toy will apparently be terminated.

"Get your freak on girl!" is apparently a firing offense.

Apparently, subjecting passengers to screening isn't an offense, but trying to humanize the experience with humor is.

Go figure.


Anonymous said...

Eh. Invading privacy due to a (however dubious) safety mandate is one thing. Invading privacy due to a safety mandate and then calling attention to that invasion in an embarrassing and unprofessional way is quite another. The firing was justified.

Jaded Consumer said...

Without getting into which TSA techniques actually move the cost/benefit needle the right direction in airline security, I think there's an enormous difference between a TSA screener who takes advantage of a passenger's vulnerable position in screening to derive inappropriate gratification through a fondling attempt, and a screener who – causing no harm beyond the existing property inspection – leaves a note trying to make light of the situation.

The unprofessional character of the note is worthy of some action, as the passenger's comments support, but unless this employee had already so misbehaved that a final-warning situation existed, I find it hard to imagine this sort of attempted humor is itself a discharging offense. The passenger seemed surprised and disappointed about the termination.

(I would regard the incident as embarrassment-generating if carried on in full view of the busy terminal, but the note seemed both to be an attempt at an essentially private communication between the screener and the passenger, and to be so un-embarrassing to the passenger that she herself tweeted the picture of the note. If real embarrassment were involved I am sure I would react differently.)

This is, of course, an area in which reactions are likely to vary and I would expect a range of views on how "serious" the note was and what consequence is appropriate. Still, a note that essentially expresses approval of something a passenger is doing seems a strange place to draw a first-offense termination line for an otherwise solid employee. If this were a commercial firm and not a government agency, and there was a risk of loss of business, a brand-injury incident might be more serious. But how could public perception of the TSA be lowered by evidence some of them are actually human?

This point does, of course, raise the question: what else has the employee done? Maybe this caps a long list and is part of a string of evidence that a problem employee is incapable of reform.

Of course, I'd trade the whole debate for a set of techniques with a superior inconvenience/security ratio.

Anonymous said...

I'm the same anonymous as before, and I agree 100% with your last two paragraphs. The TSA is a poster child for path dependence and many worse things.

In any case, I always Fedex myself my sex toys.