They spit in my face all the time…REALLY???

they spit in my face

by Kenneth Justice

~ “I have people spit in my face all the time” she said

I was sitting in a little airport coffee house during my travels this past week when a TSA agent sat down next to me. TSA stands for Transportation Security Administration….they are those people who were in the news for the past few years in the U.S. because airline passengers were going nuts at the new government protocols which involved thorough pat-downs (often including the pat down of genitalia) more intrusive body scans (that allowed TSA agents to see what you look like naked) and other security checks that many people believed were unnecessary.

People don’t seem to realize that we (the TSA agents) don’t want to touch your junk” she told me, “And for six months I had to work in the dark room looking at the body scan images and it was really uncomfortable for me seeing all those things, it was weird” she said

What do you mean by ‘weird’ ” I asked the coffee beanery

Well, anytime women have breast implants it shows up on the body scan and it looks really strange, and a lot of men and women put stuff under their clothes to enhance….their….uh, well to enhance their appearance. So it makes me feel weird to see women with things stuffed in their bra’s or men with weird things stuffed in their underwear” she said

I simply don’t get paid enough to have people spitting in my face every month” she said

It turns out that because of the public outcry against the TSA, the internal rules that TSA officials operate under were changed; if a passenger spits in the face of a TSA officer at the airport, the officer is not allowed to arrest the person; they simply have to wipe the spit off and send the passenger on through the checkpoint.

If you spit in the face of regular police officer in the United States you can be sure that you will probably receive a citation and depending on the situation you might even get arrested…….but TSA officers have to take the brunt of the public’s nastiness; they simply have to grin and bear it.

I actually made a lot more money working security at my previous job; but I got laid off and here I am working a job where our ‘customer’s’ absolutely hate our guts. They think we are devil and they don’t understand that everything we do is because if we don’t; we will get fired

the terminalThe TSA woman told me that every six months she has to take a refresher course that involves a test and if she fails; her job will immediately be terminated, “We’re under a lot of stress; the passengers hate us, our bosses watch our every move and if we make one mistake there is hell to pay on all sides” she said

Listening to the TSA agent at coffee I was mesmerized as to how different her story sounded compared to the hundreds of stories that made it into the NEWS cycle over the past few years.

—-) Some NEWS stories made it sound as though TSA agents received some kind of weird pleasure from getting to thoroughly pat-down passengers

—-) Many NEWS stories made the TSA agents out to be cruel tyrants that simply wanted to harass innocent passengers

—-) More than one NEWS story focused on the humanness of the passengers; and made the TSA agents out to be somehow less-than-human

But the reality of the situation is that the average TSA agent is just like you and me. They are normal people who go to work each day……yet unlike you and me they have to take a test every six months and if they fail; they get fired immediately. Unlike you and me they have people spit in their face….and they can’t do anything about it. Unlike you and me they are hated by their customers (the passengers) and are treated like replaceable lemmings by their bosses.

There are a lot of thankless jobs out there and being a TSA agent sounds like its one of the worst……..but that is what is great about the human spirit; because despite how awful her job can be this TSA agent told me that ultimately she believed that she was helping to protect people, “I really do believe we are making a difference. Maybe some of our regulations need to be changed, yet ultimately our goal is to protect airline passengers” she said

At the risk of over-spiritualizing this….I was reminded of the story about Jesus being spat on, being whipped, being lashed until he bled……..sometimes I guess we have to go through severe trials in order to accomplish something worthwhile with our life.

I don’t get spit on by my clients. In fact, most of my clients treat me really well…….so perhaps I am fortunate to have a job that on most days goes pretty smooth…..and that’s why I think it is a shame that I am so ignorant of what is going on in the rest of the world. Too often I live in my own little bubble where I allow the little problems of my life to become so magnified that I entirely lose perspective on what matters most.

I have a plumbing problem at my house that has to get fixed today and its been bothering me all night…….yet it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal because when I think about it; nobody is going to spit in my face today or cuss me out…….

Time for my morning coffee,




Categories: Drinking in the Culture

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53 replies

  1. It makes me really sad to read this. My husband is a police officer and if anyone spit on him, you’re right that they would get charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer. Our TSA agents should absolutely have that same right. The thing that a lot of people don’t seem to stop and think about (for ANY public safety agents) is that the people enforcing these rules and laws aren’t the ones who make these rules and laws. Like any job, there are probably things they disagree with, but it’s their job to go with it. Also, if you treat them with respect, they will treat you with respect.

    • Kudo to your husband for the work he does 🙂

      I don’t think I have what it takes to be a police officer and have to deal with all the people they deal with; in many ways it is a thankless job unfortunately…but thank god for the men and women who do it

  2. He arrives as he left! At conversation. Making the world a better place! One conversation and blog at a time.
    (BTW you US chappies have issues!)

  3. I only fly a couple times a year, so I’m not a seasoned veteran of air transportation. I watch people because I get to my gate at least an hour early–just in case… Anyway, what I’ve noticed is that there are a lot of “important” people who fly. Well, at least THEY think they are important. They think they are above the rules. They take every delay or inconvenience as a personal affront. And the frequent-flyer-first-class mindset has trickled into coach.

    Reading that people actually spit in the face of TSA agents troubles and disgusts me. Makes me wonder whatever happened to decency and respect.

  4. Buber had it right. When we slip from the I-thou in to the I- it way of relating to other poeple we become less human, more evil. Trying to see other propel as someone’s beloved child helps.

  5. “Welcome home from paradise” says real life. I have a plumbing disaster to set your nerves on edge. If our lives are scripted in the divine sense I tend to see a sadist at work most of the time. Sorry, it just seems that way. Your TSA employee didn’t offer much of a philosophy for dealing with such a stressful job. My first year teaching I caught an 5th grade girl with authority issues, spitting in my lunch. I took her to the principles’ office and later heard these responses. You must have done something to make her so mad. Teaching is supposed to be fun. I learned very quickly that I had to celebrate the positive students that did their work and treated me with respect. I think the TSA gal should have told you how the kind and polite people make her day. The job of life.

    • 8th grade (the hormone levels make soooo much more sense)

    • Wow! Spitting in your lunch!! Ellen, those parents should have been put on probation!

      As far as the kind and polite people and the TSA agent, perhaps I happened to sit with her on a bad day cause she looked really worn out. She actually vented to me quite a bit more than I wrote but some of it could of connected to who she was and I didn’t want to get her into trouble in case one of her bosses recognized who she was in the article; I’m sure she’s not supposed to be telling people the ins-and-outs of working for TSA

  6. I don’t understand how anyone could show such disrespect toward a stranger as to spit on them. I mean, I’ve seen (and experienced) people doing that,but it still defies understanding.

    I think I’ve brought this up before, but I think this is a further example of Americans obsession with sex. For lack of a better analogy, America is like a homophobic leader of an anti-LGBT organization who is secretly gay. We love sex, but we hate sex. We stigmatize everyone who does not have sex the “right” way. Moreover, we assume that any and everything that has something to do with genitalia is sexual. Sometimes, touching genitalia is not sexual. TSA is one example, doctors are another example. Hell, I’ve heard stories from friends about experiences with their parents that aren’t sexual. If your young child sees something that worries them and they say “mom, is this normal? Can you come look?” what do you do? You help the poor kid out.

    Is it so hard to believe that you can be touched and/or looked at without being sexualized by professionals who are just doing their job?

    • TK, I’m totally with you on everything you’ve written. The United States is so bizarre because we put nudity and sex in everything; movies, advertisements, music, etc. and yet the average person recoils at the littlest thing (like getting hand checked at the airport)….

      “is it so hard to believe that you can be touched and/or looked at without be sexualized by professionals who are just doing their job?”

      exactly!! And who really cares if 1 in a million TSA agents or doctors somehow get’s “off” on touching you; so what? its not that big a deal……

    • …unless your my friend who believes that only her husband should have that pleasure. That 1% chance becomes 1 too many.

    • lol, yea I guess I’ve met those people as well……ultimately it just doesn’t seem like that big a deal for me….and if someone has such a dull life that they need to get their rocks off by touching me in public while we are surrounded by thousands of people….well, whatever, I hope I make their day 😉

  7. Few who are a bit over board indulge in direct must never be allowed. After all, those who opted to visit knew they have to go through a thorough search..I wonder few people create trouble/tend to do harm..and the rest of travelers must be screened..and reported too.

  8. Being away from airplanes and the US, I can only make a general statement: if the laws that they (and everyone in similar position) are forced to apply are irrational, then although spitting does not offer a solution, it is a justified outburst, equally irrational. And the knowledge that these people do not make the rules, but just apply them is little comfort. On the other hand I could suggest a massive letter movement of passengers and citizens towards the politicians that have voted for these laws and rules. Catch – 22 comes in mind…

    • Too many of the laws in the United States are practiced to the ‘letter of the law’ and the ‘spirit’ of the law is entirely lost. I think that is how most of life is; there are a lot of people out there who feel that we must obey everything to a “t” whereas I’m the type of person that is merely looking at the spirit of the rules/law……

  9. This is just ridiculous. I could never fathom spitting at anyone, even when Ive been irritated in the airport. I dont know how people feel so entitled to do so…How they feel proud to say “Well I spit in her face…thats what I did….So there”! Afterall, didnt our mothers teach us long ago, that this was NOT NICE?

    • You took the words right out of my mouth. I agree completely.

    • Tia,

      exactly, it wasn’t until I talked with the TSA agent that I even knew people were out there who had the audacity to spit in someone’s face like that…..i’ll be honest; I’d be scared to death to spit in the face of a TSA agent cuz I would of figured I’d be arrested…turns out they can’t even do that.

    • My thoughts exactly! I worked in a theatre for a while, and the customers could be downright terrible. After I moved to England, I saw a few establishment with a sign that read “Our employees have the right to be treated with dignity. Failure to respect our employees will result in penalty.” Not sure what penalty, (removing from the store??) but I sure wish more places would have this attitude. Maybe we could call them Dignity Laws.

  10. What the…? I have to say after reading that story I now have a huge respect for the people who have to do that job. Not that I didn’t before, but I never really thought about it. I’m not sure I would be able to put up with all that, being spat on and hated and such. So again respect!
    I do have to say, that in some places airport security could be a bit (in some places quite a lot) friendlier. I think that would probably help a lot of people’s negative view of the people doing the job. I can’t really say anything about the U.S. as I’ve only flew through a few times, but I didn’t have any truly bad experiences there, or I would have remembered them.

    • Yea, the people who work those kind of jobs put up with a lot of S**t and they don’t get a thank you from anyone…….and the TSA agent made it sound like her bosses weren’t very nice either. They are all under a lot of pressure.

  11. I agree. I just wanted to add a different point of view. Maybe it’s just me, but I believe no matter what you should work and do what you believe to be right. If this agent doesn’t like her job or the rules or procedures she enforces perhaps she should look elsewhere for a better livelihood. It takes a special type of person to be able to fulfil this job description. It’s pretty clear most people don’t want that much of a violation of their bodies every time they want to travel, which is why they are not arresting everyone who spits. This violation is for anyone travelling but police cannot do this type of pat-down without a reason. Perhaps if people stood up more for their rights and not so much for their jobs we would be able to put our heads together and find a better solution or procedures in order to protect the public, whilst keeping the peoples’ dignity and honor intact. Obviously, no one should spit in the face of another, but if someone tried to touch me up (which is what is happening, regardless of the reason) I think spitting may be the least of my actions (theoretically, of course). That’s just me though, and I have never encountered this so I am only speaking from what I’ve read. It seems to me no matter what we should still be grateful as it could always be worse.

  12. In November, TSA confiscated a pint of homemade jam I had in my carry on. The process was completely humiliating and I felt like a criminal. Involved three agents and testing my hands for residue, multiple pat downs,, etc. the agents were soft spoken and professional, but you just couldn’t humanize that process. Ruined my day. It is a process that dehumanizes both sides, turning ordinary passengers into criminal suspects and TSA agents into prison guards.

  13. Thanks for expanding our perspectives, Kenneth, as always. And I don’t hate many things these days, but I do hate the news media. Although hate is a strong word. Okay, let me put it this way: I’m mad at the news media. Keep on keeping on, Truth Teller!

  14. People complain to much
    To much drugs or hijacks of planes. so we invent a humane way to check people. No good you can see my private parts.
    Google knows what you had for breakfast and what size you are. the know your interests and hobbies. they know more about you than you would want them to know.
    And we complain about a scan and spit in a face

    Just that an Security is so in our face we hate it. just because EVERYONE is seen as guilty we hate it.
    we need to grow up. stop complaining about wanting more safety. or get your ass through the scanner ans shut you ass. Pardon my french.

  15. I cannot imagine, Kenneth. What a horrible and thankless job. I hope you bought her some coffee. She has the worst job. I cannot imagine dealing with that kind of stress. It runs the gambit for sure.

    I am skipping to work today and thanking every parent for being amazing. Then I’ll start down the other side of the church the deacons and father will stand dumbfounded. I’m not Catholic, so they think I’m off anyway. 🙂

  16. God bless your heart! I would never be able to do your job… What I was told when I worked at nursing home (stressful and heavy job, but rewarding)
    TSA agent it’s just doing his job, and as we all do something for living should Respect each other and understand the rules. I would compare it with a doctor; who likes to see the doctor? Sometimes we must and even though we are not comfortable with him assessing and checking us, we except him because we need him, we went to see him and likewise with security agent people went to him and don’t realize they need him, don’t realize that no matter how big or famous you you might be, you still need to obey rules, respect, and appreciate people’s help .

    Glad you mention plumbing because I’m having same problem this week, if you refer me your plumber I promise I won’t spit on him, I brew good coffee 😃

  17. Being spit upon by the people you’re trying to protect or save and not being able to respond. Sounds familiar. God bless her and all the TSA’s. I think people should be a little more grateful and considerate of others instead of only thinking of their own very momentary inconveniences. Great interview and insights, Kenneth. Makes me even more appreciative of what they do for our welfare.

  18. reports like this always sadden me and even anger me. We have gotten so cocky with our so-called freedom. How dare anyone think they can spit in another’s face for the sake of keeping our travels safe. I’ve been to mainland China – and believe me—–I would never think of coming against their airport inspectors or security as they dig through my suitcase. I’m keeping this light – no sense ranting here. Thank you for sharing her experience – makes me look twice at this job they have. This is one thankful person for the teams of people who work to keep us safe.

  19. it’s like the girl at the check out counter at the grocery store. Slow, looks downright moody and you can see she really doesn’t wanna be there. And it irritates me, till i remind myself, that it’s a shit job and i wouldn’t wanna do it and you work shitty hours and really smiling and pretending you love being stuck on their seat, well, i dont think it’s a top priority. So if she’s not smiling, i try to smile at her and hopefully she cant help but smile back

  20. wow – feel bad for the TSA folks – and I know they have a hard job, and while I have never spit on any of them, I was a bit grumpy one time – when the TSA lady took my 15 dollar Aveda conditioner (that I was bringing to my friend Nesa from my sister). I know it was not her fault – but it was not even liquid…. and well, I guess the ol’ “bearer of bad news” and “don’t hurt the messenger” type of thing applies.

    anyhow, I am glad TSA is there keeping us safer and may they all be encouraged in their work.

    and Mr Monk – I hope your plumbing stuff gets fixed (was it a frozen pipe with all this cold weather??…. brrrr)

  21. No one should have to put up with it – TSA jobs seem to be the lower rung of hell….thanks for posting this

  22. Maybe she should try being a nurse. You get worse than spit sometimes. However, the vast majority of people appreciate nurses but the ones who don’t can be quite brutal. Many jobs can be painful. At least she has one. I guess I don’t sound all that sympathetic. But I appreciate your “walk a mile in her shoes” take on it.

  23. I’m always amazed at how many people (including the TSA agents) really believe that these invasive, demeaning, UNCONSTITUTIONAL, ILLEGAL searches have anything to do with anything else but CONTROL.It has NOTHING to do with protecting us and plenty of security professionals all over the world have admitted that.
    I feel bad for the TSA agent, but obviously she doesn’t give one whit for the constitution which is the supreme law of the land. Some of us living here still DO. NO ONE should have their rights violated like this for ANY reason and that includes someone elses idea of ‘safety’.
    As human beings, we ALL have a RIGHT to travel FREELY, without interference! I will NEVER accept willingly any government agent restricting that right whether they choose to do it only because it’s their job, or even if they really like it. Germany’s NAZI stormtroopers were also just doing thier jobs!
    No matter what, its WRONG and they should not be doing it. I know its hard to find a job these days, but they should really all quit that one and leave the rest of us in peace.

  24. Wow, i know some times its rough working in the airline industry but to spit in someone’s face is just horrible thing to do to someone. I work for a regional airline service which flies from our small town to Denver. Our airline has been struggling lately with canceling flights on a regular basis due to a pilot shortage. Our customers are getting fed up and we get some nasty phone calls blaming us, the agents, with canceling their flight. But we just have to grin and bear it and do our best to rebook them. Its not easy!!!

  25. You’ve written a lovely post here by disclosing the point of view of the agent, a point of view I gather is largely unnoticed and unappreciated. It’s important to realize that our interactions are with people who have a home and a family and a life to return to after the work day.

  26. Indeed that treatment to TSA officer make us to appreciate things at their true value and stop the nonsense of our imaginary problems. Pretty gross deed and shamful to see there are people in the 21st century behaving as a barbarians when someone else are watching their back!

  27. I just flew to TX and back, my first time on a plane in several years. Back then severe anxiety, claustrophobia, and landing on the “no fly” list (long story) made flying a nightmare. I guess a blessing in disguise was that my anxiety and fear made me doubly nice to the airport employees. Everyone I came in contact with, really.

    This TX trip was a revelation. I take meds for anxiety now, and practicing yoga (seriously), meditation, and becoming a vegan had a profoundly positive effect on me. Not a second of fear, shaking, or feeling hemmed in, genuine smiles and thank you’s to TSA and OHS employees, flight attendants, other passengers, and genuine smiles and responses (my favorite: “How you doing, honey?” from a female employee as I handed her my ID and boarding pass). I don’t own a TV anymore, thank goodness, so I escape a lot of the “news” churned out by the media these days.

    So many people are so stressed out. I know times are tough; they’re always tough for some. I’ve tried explaining to “compassionate” vegan friends who judge and hate all non-vegans that everyone has a story. And maybe if they stopped and listened to these stories, this hate and judgement would dissipate. Thanks for your part in sharing them.

  28. wow man that job would suck way beyond my patience level. . .

  29. I interviewed for a TSA job once. Two step process, wasn’t easy. I can’t say I was overly impressed with the people that interviewed me, but, yeah, they were regular people.

    I rarely fly– I think I’ve been on a plane maybe twice in my life, and the last time was 1998, before restrictions got really bad. I’m not sure what the best solution is, but, I would probably agree with those that say this is “security theater” and we might do better with following how Israel does it.

    I also think your story about the agent is common to all sorts of service jobs. I worked retail and food service and I have often thought that many people would probably complain less bitterly if they had to serve a few rounds doing that kind of work. I try very hard to be respectful and kind to people in service work, especially anyone at a cash register or at a restaurant. In some cases, I was pretty much right in their shoes and I try to treat them the best way I remember being treated, or that I wish I had been treated.


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