We all want to be safe and protected when we travel, especially on airplanes, but the Transportation Security Administration agents responsible for that protection have a reputation for inappropriate behavior.
For example, a woman with breast cancer was recently treated with anything but compassion or respect when she went through security at Los Angeles International Airport.
Denise Albert wears a wig, has a port in her chest and cannot walk without her feet covered due to sores from her treatment — all of which the TSA agents reportedly ignored or disregarded Sunday night.
Albert posted a video to social media of the embarrassing experience and explained that the TSA agents were rough with her, despite her medical condition, and humiliated her in front of other travelers.
Despite being TSA Pre-check — a special designation for certain travelers who are not required to take their shoes off and are allowed other, more convenient security measures — the cancer patient was asked to remove her shoes after she exited the scanner.
When Albert explained that she did not have socks on and couldn’t stand barefoot because of the sores on her feet, the agents allowed her to sit, but when they decided to do a full-body search, the agents would not allow her to put her shoes back on in order to walk to a private room.
“After at least 20 minutes of sitting there because they were debating how to proceed, I told them my feet were freezing. Also a side effect from chemo. They refused to help me,” Albert wrote.
But it got worse from there.
“The woman reached behind me and (forcibly) and aggressively put her hands down my jeans in the back,” the woman explained.
When the agents told Albert they would be using pressure to search her body from “head to toe” — which meant she would have to remove her wig — she became very upset, as she never removes her wig in public, People Magazine reported.
“I didn’t want them to touch it, move it or ruin it,” Albert wrote. “So I ripped it off for them to pat my head without damaging my wig (that I paid for and insurance didn’t cover)!”
And when she searched in between Albert’s legs, the agent had a “smirk on her face the whole time,” Albert told WPLG.
Eventually, the TSA agent attempted to search the woman’s chest area, which Albert refused.
“You can’t touch me there,” she told the agent, explaining that she had a port in her because of her lumpectomy.
The agent, however, disregarded the woman’s medical concerns, again, and told her that she had to “clear the area” in order for Albert to make it through the security check.
Unbelievably, the humiliation and insensitivity didn’t end there.
Although a supervisor eventually took Albert into a private room for the remainder of the search, her luggage was searched by agents who were seemingly more interested in making fun of its contents than doing their security jobs.
When one of the agents joked about all of the fake eyelashes Albert had packed, the woman said she had to explain that it was because she didn’t have real ones due to her cancer treatment.
Albert said that the experience left her “shaken up,” “in shock,” and “humiliated.”
There’s no reason why TSA agents should behave this way.
Most people understand that they have to do their jobs in order to protect us from harm, but a little compassion and sensitivity, particularly in situations like Albert’s, wouldn’t be impossible.
In fact it should be expected and required.
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