Although I have, on a few occasions, worn my Fourth Amendment t-shirt, I generally just try to blend in with the crowd and answer with a grunt if a response is required. Today as I went through airport security at a major U.S. hub, the initial “papers please” TSA agent who checks boarding passes against identification would not take silence as an answer.
Probably in his sixties, very chatty, and wearing a Marine Corps pin. “Thanks,” he says cheerfully.
I just give him a blank stare as I wait for him to check my papers.
He puts down my papers and looks up at me. “Thanks,” he says again and waits for a response.
“Thanks for what?” I query.
“Thanks for coming to the airport. Thanks for flying. Thanks for choosing this line.”
I hesitate for a moment, trying to decide how best to respond. “Thanks for treating me like a criminal,” I finally respond.
“A criminal? Does this look like you’re a criminal,” he asks?
“I am guilty of the crime of wanting to fly on a commercial plane,” I tell him. Out of the corner of my eye I can see other passengers waiting in line shift awkwardly.
“You’re gonna make me start taking my meds again!” I assume he’s making some sort of joke and others in line nervously chuckle.
“I figured with a Marine pin you’d know all about the Constitution but apparently I am mistaken.”
He hands me my papers without a word and I continue on towards the body scanners. As I’m walking away he says something unintelligible and more passengers laugh. I turn back to the passengers in line and say, “I’m sorry the Fourth Amendment is a joke to you.” Nobody says a word, but as I continue on to the body scanners I can hear one woman behind me gush, “We joined this line because you’re so nice!”
Well lady, you may not possess the freedoms you think you do but at least your jailers are “nice”.