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Adventures in TSA Douchebaggery

Over the weekend, I made a trip to Norfolk, Virginia.  Against my better judgement, I flew rather than drove.  Apparently taking an extra day on each end of the trip wasn’t such a good idea, even though the routing would have been simple:

Step 1 – Get on I-64 East

Step 2 – Get off of I-64 East just before you hit the surf.

Anyway, Friday morning I packed up my weekend bag and headed to the airport.  Since I only had my small bag and my laptop, I decided to carry-on everything rather than check a bag.  As I was going through the TSA checkpoint in Louisville, I heard those words that every traveller hates:

“Sir, is this your bag?”

The young lady who asked that question, who I’ll call Ms. Respectful, pulled my bag off the x-ray machine, opened it, and took out the baggie that contained my toiletries.  Then I realized I’d messed up:

“Sir, is that a razor?”

“Uhhh, yes, yes it is.”

“Does it have a blade in it?”

“You’re right, it does.  Do I need to remove it?”

“Yes, sir.  Could you open it for me and hand me the blade?”

I unscrewed the head on my safety razor, pulled it off of the handle, and handed the blade to the nice young lady.  She threw it in the trash can, thanked me, and went back to her job.

Now, before I move on, I want to point out that this young lady was courteous, professional, and competent.  She didn’t insist that I throw away my entire razor, and actually thanked me as I left her area.   She was dressed properly, with her hair neat, her uniform wrinkle-free, and her shoes were comfortable, but didn’t look like she’d just come in from the gym. If we have to have TSA agents, I want them to be like her.

Contrast that with my experience yesterday morning in Norfolk.

Remembering my experience in Louisville, I packed my razor with the head unscrewed from the handle.  This was to make it easier to show there wasn’t a blade in it. But again, as my bag went through the x-ray machine, I heard those words again:

“Is that your bag?”

Sigh.  “Yes, it is.  Yes, there’s the body of a razor in it, but there isn’t a blade. Do you need to see it?”

“Yeah, go ahead and come over here.”

The young person who had my bag, who I’ll call Dingleberry, took my carry-on over to the Table of Doom and proceeded to try to unzip it by pulling both zippers at once.   After explaining to him that you only needed to pull on one zipper to open it, he succeeded in getting that accomplished.  He pulled out my baggie-o-toiletries, and peered in . 

“See,” I said, “there’s the handle, and there’s the head.  No blade.”

“All right.  I need to put this through the machine again.”

“Well, OK, if that’s what you have to do.”

Dingleberry took the baggie and went to the front of the x-ray machine.  As he was doing this, another ‘agent’ came over, and grabbed my carry-on.  He proceeded to swab it with those Tucks medicated pads they use to check for explosives residue.  This caused me to stop paying attention to Dingleberry, who apparently decided that the head of my razor, which I’m sure he calls “The razor thing that goes up”, was the dangerous part, so he disposed of it.  By “disposed of it”, I mean he threw away my property without seeking my permission or even telling me he was doing it.  I didn’t notice that I only got the handle of my razor back until I went to shave this morning*. 

So, in a vain attempt to make sure that I don’t make the crew of my airliner kissably smooth, he threw away a necessary, but inert, part of my razor.  I guess when you only have to pluck three scraggly hairs off your chin a couple of times a week and use a Captain Planet neck trimmer to shape your cheese-dick pencil-thin mustache back to your Angela Davis-esque hair-do, you don’t learn what a safety razor is.   Maybe if he could figure out which of the guys at the block party in 1993 was his father, maybe he’d have been taught that the parts of a razor that don’t have an edge aren’t dangerous.

Oh, and since I commented on the appearance of Ms. Respectful, I’ll comment on Dingleberry.  Like I said, his hair was a fright, resembling something that had been pulled out of a vacuum cleaner bag.  His uniform looked like he had not only slept in it, but had also rolled in a vat of bread crumbs on the way to work.  His shoes, while stylish on the basketball court, didn’t exactly fit in with the whole “professional attire” motif he should have been looking for.  In other words, he looked like someone wearing a Halloween costume instead of a professional.

Next on the hit parade we had two TSA goons I will call “Fritz” and “Heidi”.  They were the two individuals that were ‘guarding’ my gate as we lined up to board.  They were kitted out in what I think I will call the “TSA assault vest”, which appears to be a hand-me-down bartender’s vest from a 1980’s cocktail bar, complete with shiny buttons.  But the TSA makes them look classy by clipping on radios, pens, and an embroidered ‘badge’.  

As we got ready to get on the plane, these two refugees from a World War II spy movie ‘randomly’ asked several people in line if they could see their boarding passes.  The impacted passengers consisted of a mother flying with three small children, an old lady who needed a cane to walk, and three uniformed Navy guys.  The lady with the children was directly in front of me, and she was asked, and I shit you not, “Show me your boarding papers”.  You don’t get more stormtrooper than that unless you’re actually wearing jackboots and smacking an old babushka in the face with a riding crop.  Once they were satisfied that a young family, three sailors in their summer whites, and a grandmother weren’t going to rain death down upon the eastern seaboard, they returned to their spot leaning against the wall and glowering at us as we filed onto the plane.

And people wonder why I prefer to drive.  The whole TSA needs to be scrapped.  The two or three people who are worth a damn that wear that uniform will find something either as good as or better to earn their daily bread, and the rest can return to their former jobs of couch surfing, recycling dental floss, and cleaning out the grease trap at the rendering plant.

Now, if y’all will excuse me, I’m off to buy a new razor.  I’m tempted to mail the handle of the old one to the head of the TSA along with a note of thanks for the ‘professionalism’ of his organization.

*By the way, shaving with one of your teenage daughter’s unused hot pink and lavender disposable razors isn’t exactly the same experience as using a nickel-plated Merkur safety razor.


  1. They have a web site for complaints and observations. Just sayin’.


  2. Frank

     /  April 22, 2013

    They tossed part of your Mercur?
    I’d be pissed too.


  3. Lazy Bike Commuter

     /  April 22, 2013

    Aww man, a Merkur’s a nice razor.

    Ever since I discovered safety razors, I don’t understand why anyone would want to use one of the “Mach 3” abominations.

    Stories like this are the reason that my wife and I drove 16 hours t oour honeymoon instead of flew. Though since I had us listen to the MHI audiobook on the way and made her a fan, it was extra worthwhile.


  4. Yeah, send it to them… AND the specifics on the idjit that threw the head away!!! Dayum!


  5. I would want somebody’s head on a platter. “Hopping mad” wouldn’t even begin to describe it.

    There’s a reason I left my (vintage) safety razor at home when I flew for my uncle’s funeral. The fact that I didn’t know if I would be able to find blades for it where I was going to be was just an additional incentive. I just made do with a crap disposable razor that I bought there for a few days.

    Of course, if we had driven, like I wanted to, I could have taken my straight razors and been properly shaved. Stupid TSA.


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