I Came Here to Chew Bubblegum and Kick Terrorism’s Ass, and I’m All Out of Bubblegum, Because I Was Ordered to Spit the Bubblegum Out, Because the Terrorists Are at this Airport Right Now Looking for Signs of Weakness Such as Bubblegum Chewing in Our Nation’s 20 Security Layers, My Transportation Security Administration Supervisor Claims.
Dear Taking Sense Away,
I work at a fairly large airport on the West Coast which shall remain anonymous. Our checkpoint supervisor is a typical micromanager, making mountains out of molehills and generally making everyone miserable for petty things (one time she rallied to get someone fired for not confiscating an old woman’s orange juice, for instance). But her real obsession is with gum chewing.
It seems like all she does, as a sworn federal security officer and defender of the United States of America from terrorism, is carefully watch our jawlines to make sure none of us has even a sliver of Juicy Fruit in our mouths, as though there weren’t enough in life to worry about and make each other miserable over already, without worrying about officers discreetly chewing gum to bring just a little bit of fruity joy to their miserable 8 hours with this woman.
Maybe she could user her officer observation skills in order to see if they are stealing from the public, for instance.
The thing that really gets me is how she invokes 9/11 and the threat of terrorism when she threatens to write us up over gum chewing. She often asks us to open our mouths and show her what we are chewing. If it’s a Mentos or a Starburst being enjoyed, it’s fine. Sucking on a Jolly Rancher is fine, as far as she’s concerned. Chewing on a piece of taffy at a turtle pace, slowly for hours, is also fine. But if it is an official piece of gum that we are officially chewing (and sucking on the gum is also fine) then she sometimes has us written up, the write ups including the words “failure to maintain command presence, uniform code,” and she is constantly chiding us about how terrorists are out there watching for someone with their guard down, chewing gum.
Anyway, basically, do you have any advice on this?
-D, Screener from out West
I think every TSA employee has experienced what you’re going through there, D. I know I sure as hell suffered a few supervisors with absurd gum fixations when I worked there. It should never come as a surprise to reasonable people working at TSA that you find yourself at any one time surrounded by a lot of unreasonable, not-too-bright, and incredibly anal retentive people. Look. You are working for an agency whose culture is one of absurd, picayune semantics disconnected from reality. One that has, historically, made enormous stinks about tiny snow globes and nail files. You seem like an intelligent and reasonable person, D.
My advice is to get the fuck out of that job.
Wishing you the best,
Send all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org