Is Training Airport Security a Dirty Word?

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    It seems the Transportation Security Administration or TSA does not train its agents in any of the soft training skills. Is “nice” a dirty word? It is a four letter word, but come on!

    I’m not being insensitive. I know the TSA has had a rough time of it, especially recently when they lost one of their own to some idiot with a gun. I am being insensitive…to some idiot with a gun. My family and I were traveling this last week, and our hearts go out to the family of the TSA agent who was shot.

    I’m ashamed our condolences may have come up short. I’m sure we weren’t alone. I’m not justifying… “Tourists”…are focused on one thing: getting away to have fun and no one is going to stop them. Serious is gone. There was also an important world negotiation on how much the major world powers were willing to allow Iran to refine uranium to “weapon’s grade” levels and I doubt many tourists–especially those who were on the cruises noticed. Out of site – out of mind.

    Now, back to the TSA… In the back of our minds, selfishly so, the incident was just bad timing on our parts. “Security is not going to be fun,” we know that. ” We don’t blame TSA for not being in a good mood on that particular. After all, one of their own was shot.” But selfishly we went about our business of going on vacation and trying not to think about it much. We should say, “tragedy” as it is for one family.

    Were we worried someone else was going to rush the security point we were in and target it? Oh, no. We were more concerned about taking our shoes off, making sure we wore slip-ons to make the process faster and easier. We made sure liquids were in plastic bags, and laptops were at the ready, and we bitched when pulled aside for additional security measures. All the while, who is protecting the ones protecting the airport and planes? And us?

    As I always do when I travel, I look at every experience as a way of talking about training. I do have an interesting story to tell about language training and tourism in Roatan in the Honduras, but we’ll keep going with this one for now…as we move past the American tragedy and onward to my real topic.

    TSA-personnelFor me and I know for others, anytime we travel we wince knowing we have to go through security. The children and I were whisked on through (pre-screened or something like that) and my wife got the works, complete with body search. I feel a joke coming on…let’s just say it’s because my beautiful wife is so much better looking than I am that she was selected for this honor. Okay, it was random. My opinion: what may be good for public relations, I’m not so sure is good for safety. I hope they have equipment they aren’t telling us about.

    Although it was a bit chaotic as always, we got through it with everything we brought along. It seemed a bit dicey. I’m always afraid we’ll leave something behind. Here’s the truth of the matter. How many of us have traveled and the TSA agents were just as abrupt, rude, and insensitive as always. What especially ticks me off is when behavior affects the children, the handicapped, and the elderly? There is an easier way. With training, of course.

    Training suggestions:

    • Have an agent or even a lower paid employee monitor what goes in and what goes out to ensure the same articles come out and go to the right person. I would think that would be basic. The airport is always warning passengers about strangers and keeping an eye on our bags at all times, just in case someone should put something in them while they are unattended.
    • Have TSA agents smile and not make us feel like idiots or the enemy. Some of us don’t do this all the time. Hint. Those with children and/or elderly people. If it’s a ploy, your smile will give would be terrorists a false sense of security.
    • Train them in social skills if the above doesn’t work.
    • Train them in more than one language for at least the basic things you need us to do. It would be nice to have someone who can recognize an agent who is having difficulty communicating with a customer. The inability to communicate is not the fault of the customer; communication is a two-way street.
    • Train agents that saying “please” and “thank you” does not diminish their authority. Police do it. Military do it. If we didn’t learn to be polite in kindergarten, our parents, grandparents or guardians taught us. It’s basic civility. I remember my youngest son, who was ten at the time, had left some orange juice in his backpack during a layover, burst into tears when the TSA agent grabbed his bag, searched it ferociously while making a little boy feel like a criminal. A little gentleness would have accomplished the same mission and the little “criminal” would still be there.

    agent-securitySo, there you go. Airport security varies. Smaller airports tend to be easier as far as security goes since they aren’t so crowded, therefore, not so hectic. All airports wouldn’t be so tense with a few manners being used by all parties. I’ve seem rude passengers, too. Who hasn’t? People in a hurry to have fun are some of the rudest people around. Funny isn’t it? They seem to care the least about the people around them who could make life so much easier if they received a smile and a thank you from a customer as well.

    Security’s not there to ruin your vacation, or did somebody miss the memo; they’re there so you don’t get blown out of the sky. Let them do their jobs. I want to make it easier. I put safety first. If for some reason, someone has a good reason for needing expedited service make accommodated services away from the crowded–even if it’s their own fault for being late to the airport. There are stupid jerks everywhere, in every part of the world, speaking every language. The opposite is true, too. What we don’t know won’t hurt us and one less complaint. Peace.

    Happy training.

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    For more resources about training, see the Training library.