Last weekend at LAX I had my first interaction with a TSA agent since the federal government shutdown began.
She was friendly and smiled at me. I thanked her for showing up to work during the shut down, noting that it was unfortunate she was being used as a political pawn.
Well thank you very much. I do appreciate it and also hope they resolve this issue soon.
I agreed with her. After handing me back my ID, she added:
Do you want to adopt me?
Lest you think this was flirting or serious, she broke out laughing before I did. It was a nice encounter.
Ben (Lucky) from One Mile at a Time shared of a different incident. He was at the airport and the person in front of him in line thanked the TSA agent for working during the shut down. The TSA agent responded, “I hate when people say that.”
Talk about rude.
Based upon that anecdote, Lucky reasoned:
TSA agents mostly aren’t working because they want to be, but rather because they have to be, and because they can still be disciplined if they don’t show up or take too many sick days.
“Thanks” doesn’t pay for gas, credit card bills, rent, or child care.
But thanks affirms human dignity. It also expresses thanksgiving. And to be sure, I am thankful that upwards of 90% of TSA agents continue to show up to work. I’m thankful that most airports are still running smoothly during the shutdown and that the agents are still doing their job to the best of their abilities.
On the one hand, the agents will likely receive backpay once the shutdown is over. Thus, their paychecks are merely being delayed. But on the other hand, many entry-level TSA screeners are working paycheck to paycheck. Starting pay at the TSA is only $25,518/year. No, saying “thank you” does not pay bills. But it shows solidarity. That counts for something.
My point is simple. Just because some agents may be (understandably) in a bad mood should not stop you from expressing your thanks to them. I assume most of you, like me, are genuinely grateful that these agents are on the job. Not so much because I view them as essential or useful, but because under statute flights could not operate without them.
One of the greatest joys of human life is giving to others, including giving gratitude. Don’t let a few rude agents stop you from expressing thanks to TSA agents during the shutdown. And if you know any TSA agents in specific need, help them out. At least in California, the TSA agents now have relief.