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Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Friendly TSA

Just to keep it real with the anarchists out there (after my post siding with Gene the Sellout), let me tell what happened with my dealings with the Transportation Safety Administration (I think that's what the abbrevation is for)...

Last time I flew, I couldn't use electronic check-in. The airline employees at the counter (both ways) had to take my license and make a phone call before giving me my tickets. The first time, they wrote down the 800 number for the TSA and told me I'd have to call or else this would happen every time I flew. So I needed to call to take care of it. (The lady added, "It will take a while.")

So finally I called, was on hold for not too long (about five minutes), and then got an African American woman in her thirties I think. (I tell you about demographics merely so you can "hear" her scold me in a moment.) Our dialogue:

TSA: Hello my name is ______ how can I help you?

Bob: Yeah, I just had a flight and couldn't use electronic check-in, I'm on some list, and they told me to call you.

TSA: Can I have your name? ... Home address? ... Home telephone? ... Date of birth?

Bob: Uh, can I ask what this is for?

TSA (annoyed): Sir, you called us. I need this information to process.--

Bob: Right, but I called you because I'm on your list and they told me I had to call you.

TSA: Sir, we need to get your information so we can send you the packet to your home address. Then when you fill it out and we process it, we can verify that you are not the person on our list, and then you will be able to fly without delays. This will take about 40 [maybe 45, I forget--RPM] days. If you have to fly before then, I suggest you book your tickets with your full name.

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Anyway, that's what happened. So I guess the reason I could fly when the airline personnel called (which I thought was pointless at the time--"Oh phew, the would-be terrorist would never do anything after a phone call!") was that they confirmed that Robert [middle name] Murphy, at home address blah blah, wasn't the person on the list. (The actual R. Murphy on the list is apparently some anarchist who writes crazy economics articles for Mises.org.)

But isn't this a neat way for the government to get tabs on everybody? Just randomly throw names on a list, so anyone with similar names has to send all their info to the government before he or she can fly without an extra layer of molestation? (And I mean that in the generic sense, of course.)

One last thing: Last time my wife and son flew, they carefully searched him (he's three months old). And his name's not Mustapha, in case you're curious.

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