Confession #8: The One Way in Which the TSA Really Takes Care of its Screeners.

A TSA officer after having found someone with a bomb ass sandwich.

As I’ve mentioned before, the TSA has never done a very good job of making itself the kind of place where good, smart workers would even think about staying, at least on the floor-level.

Nearly every single screener you see at the airport is profoundly unhappy with his or her job, dear flying public, and desperately wants to get a new and better job (save for two kinds of people, at opposite ends of the age spectrum: those who are close to retirement, and those who have just begun paying their way through college).

Walk up to nearly any TSA screener and ask what he or she “thinks about being on the PASS or TOPS system instead of the GS scale.” Go ahead. I dare you. In the world of a TSA screener, it’s like saying “Beetlejuice” three times. Things will get crazy.

Imagine:

You’re working at an agency that is looked upon with disdain, at worst, and ambivalence, at best, by the public. Many of the supervisors, managers and other higher-ups who are bossing you around would be standing behind a Wal*Mart cash register had 9/11 never happened. Every few months you have to take an absurd, mostly-theoretical SOP and practical test that can potentially get you fired (you’re incessantly and redundantly being tested; tests that are just as nonsensical as the idiotic rules you’re forced to impose upon the flying public). The TSA promotion system makes very little sense. The furthest you will ever even theoretically advance in life, on your present course, is to the post of leading an organization that everyone A. Thinks is funny and doesn’t matter. or B. Hates.

Doesn’t sound like the ideal job, does it? So are there any perks, outside of decent health insurance and a few government discounts, that the TSA can provide?

Duh-duh-duh-duhhhhh.

UNLIMITED TSA UNIFORMS.

As a TSA employee, I had access to more uniforms than I could have ever needed. You too will find this to be the case should you ever become a TSA screener. This is the one selling point that the TSA could honestly post in its job announcements: “We will give you so many uniforms (which you’ll generally be embarrassed to wear) that your fucking mind will be blown.”

Your first year, things will start off sensibly: you’ll be given a few pairs of uniforms. “OK, this seems reasonable,” you’ll think, “I have a few pairs of uniforms, here.”

Then, not long after, you’ll be given approximately $400 in credit to buy more uniforms.

“Well OK, I have back-up uniforms now: 7 TSA shirts, 7 pairs of TSA pants, a TSA jacket, TSA shoes…that’s literally a week’s worth of uniforms without having to wash, not counting repeat wears, which everyone does. This is cool. I also have 10 pairs of these shitty VF Solutions-issue socks that are like wearing alpaca towels on my feet, but hey, whatever. This is coo–”

Wait, there’s more! You just got more money deposited into your uniform allowance! Go crazy!

“OK so I have 12 TSA shirts now, 9 pairs of TSA pants,  a TSA tactical sweatshirt, a TSA jacket, a TSA all-season jacket, and 14 pairs of TSA towel/socks. I’m just two years in with this agency, and I’d say I’m just about covered as far as uniforms go for the next couple years or–”

Hold up (wait a minute!). You now get additional funds deposited into your account annually, on your hire date!

Go ‘head, it’s your birthday! Go TSAshop, it’s your birthday!

“OK. So 16 pairs of pants, 2 TSA tactical sweatshirts, a TSA plain jacket, a TSA all-season jacket, 1 TSA knit cap– I’m based out of Phoenix but fuck it, you never know– 2 spare name plates, 17 TSA shirts, 2 TSA belts, 4 back-up epaulets just in case, 19 pairs of TSA socktowels, and a pair of TSA-issue shoes that I don’t wear.  Three years in and I’d say I’m just about covered for the next couple years or…”

BAM! The whole thing starts again!

Working for the TSA is like being in a bad movie running in ass-backward reverse. Instead of using time and resources to make the agency a little closer to being one that the public doesn’t despise, and where workers are at least a little happy to put on their TSA gear, the agency spends all its money doing things such as piling blue clown uniforms on its employees. For some reason, even the people in the Coordination Centers are mostly required to wear the uniforms in some kind of patriotic public display of pride and solidarity for their highly respected organization. Know what’s weird about that last sentence, besides the entire second half of it?

The public never even sees the people in the Coordination Center. It’s a complete waste of taxpayer money. Even they don’t want to wear those embarrassing blues.

It’s like the TSA has been determined from day 1 to put as many federal airport/mall cop uniforms into circulation as possible, in the hopes that…you know what, I don’t even know what the motivation behind that would be.

Just thinking about wearing a TSA uniform is giving me indigestion, so I have to stop typing now.

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