The TSA does it again

August 22, 2012 • 4:50 am

Lately my experience with TSA officials in the U.S. has not been pleasant. Besides being groped and goosed, I’ve been yelled at and generally treated like a worm in the security lines. (This is not unique to me: everyone gets mistreated.) My theory is that the people hired to police airline security have generally been powerless individuals then thrust suddently into a position of power that allows them to order anybody around.  Perhaps, dissatisfied with their own lives, they take it out on everyone else. Or maybe they’re just mean.

Granted, I’ve met some nice ones, but generally they are unfriendly, haughty, and officious.  This impression was confirmed when, via a ‘tweet’ broadcast by Jennifer Ouelette,  I learned about the plight of one Arijit Guha, who I’m guessing from the name is of Indian descent.  Four days ago, Guha tried to board a Delta Airlines flight at the Buffalo/Niagra airport in New York, heading back to Phoenix after his grandfather’s funeral. Guha’s fatal mistake was wearing a tee shirt designed by Cory Doctorow—a shirt that made fun of airline security theater. Here it is from Doctorow’s post on boingboing:

Srs mistake!  Guha tells the story on his own website. Delta officials asked him to change his shirt because it made airline officials and passengers “uncomfortable.” Guha then fell into the clutches of the TSA itself, was subject to multiple interrogations with some pretty ludicrous questions. Finally, after being told he could board the plane after all, was kicked off with his wife, rebooked for the next day, and forced to overnight at his own expense. As Guha tells it:

Soon afterwards, once the boarding process had commenced, the Delta supervisor pulled me aside again — this time accompanied by not only three TSA agents, but also multiple Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority transit police. I was questioned some more and my wife was also pulled out of line for additional questioning and screening. Our bags were searched, my shirt was photographed, we were asked multiple questions about the cause of our visit, how often we make it to western NY, and our drivers’ license numbers were taken and radioed in for what seemed to be a quick background check.

At this point, the TSA agents appeared satisfied we had nothing suspicious in our luggage and that we posed no threat. However, the Delta supervisor informed us the pilot had decided, regardless of the outcome of the multiple TSA screenings and my willingness to change shirts, that due to the discomfort my shirt has caused, my wife and I would not be allowed to board the aircraft. Passengers on the plane supposedly felt uncomfortable with my very presence on the flight. And the Delta manager went out of his way to point out that he wholeheartedly agreed with the pilot’s decision.

I was stunned. “You’re f—— kidding me,” I said in response. I pushed for an explanation of why the pilot was willing to overrule/ignore the judgment of the trained security officers. “Why can’t I board? What’s the concern?,” I asked.

His response left me even more stunned: “Just use your imagination.”

Note that Guha had been thoroughly searched and questioned, his luggage was ransacked, and he certainly posed no threat. What he was guilty of was making the other passengers uncomfortable—and apparently not being Caucasian.  A fellow with brown skin wearing a provocative tee-shirt.

And his nightmare wasn’t over:

Having been booted from our flight, the transit police now began to aggressively question us. At one point, I was asked where my brother lives (he was the one who gifted me the shirt). A bit surprised by the irrelevant question, I paused for a moment before answering.

“You had to think about that one. How come?,” she asked. I explained he recently moved. “Where’d he move from?” “Michigan,” I respond. “Michigan, what’s that?,” she says. At this point, the main TSA agent who’d questioned me earlier interjected: “He said ‘Michigan’.” Unable to withhold my snark, I responded with an eye-rolling sneer: “You’ve never heard of Michigan?”

This response did not please her partner, a transit cop named Mark. Mark grabbed his walkie-talkie and alerted his supervisor and proceeded to request that he be granted permission to question me further in a private room. His justification?: “First he hesitated, then he gave a stupid answer.” Michigan, my friends, is a stupid answer.

And then, he decided to drop any façade of fair treatment: the veil was lifted, this was about who I was and how I looked: “And he looks foreign.”

It gets more complicated—convoluted in fact—but Guha finally made it home. But first they made him get sniffed by dogs and then booked him on a flight the next morning without paying for an overnight stay.  Did I mention that he’s undergoing treatment for stage IV colon cancer, and opted for a manual screening because he wears a colostomy bag and is afraid of extra radiation?

What bothers me about all this is that we passengers seem to have no recourse to this kind of treatment by the TSA. Delta Airlines and the TSA should apologize to Guha and his wife and issue a public apology. Further, Delta should reimburse him for his expenses and give him at least one free flight.

There will be no chance of that, nor TSA won’t change any of its procedures, much less rebuke the offending agents. Delta, too, needs to clean up its act. I never fly that airline anyway, simply because I don’t like them, but now I’ve vowed to avoid them forever.  If passengers get “offended” by an innocuous teeshirt, too bad for them.  It’s not a violation of the law, nor, I doubt, of airline policy—it’s a political statement, and a rather unoffensive one.

At the end, Guha asks readers to complain; he gives multiple addresses but I’ll list only one:

Write to Delta, their CEO, to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Transit Police, and to the feds who are in charge of ensuring that passengers do not have their civil rights violated.

Demand justice. Maintaining the safety of the flying public should not mean the abrogation of civil rights of dark-skinned passengers.

(Our flight was Delta #1176, BUF to ATL, August 18, 2012)

I’ve complained to Delta, ad asked for a response, but my hope are not high.  Any updates, I presume, will be on Guha’s website. 

God, I hate the TSA.  And as for Delta, I’ll take my business elsewhere.

UPDATE: If you want to read a report on the failures of the TSA, you can download a Congressional report from May at this link.

154 thoughts on “The TSA does it again

  1. I used to have very bad times with TSA a few years back, despite being white, male, Caucasian – and then it suddenly stopped! Suddenly, they had friendly people working for them, people who could actually think on their feet and make smart decisions (like: if i use my cell as a clock, looking at it to check the time is NOT a violation of the cell phone ban in immigration lines, thus no need to further question me), be helpful, etc. I wasn’t even given a hard time over the Chinese visas in my passport, the questions they posed where sensible (“I see you went to China a lot, why?” – “Work; I go where the dinosaurs are.” – “Oh, any good museums I should visit when I go next summer?”), and they were satisfied with normal answers. And when one did ask a stupid question and I made a snarking reply, he actually laughed at his own stupidity!

    I just wish they ALL were like that.

  2. Is there any way to get some sane authorties or senators or a president to appoint am omsbudsman to sort out complaints and harrassments? Some day? THose TSA thugs are out of control, tho there may be some good ones. I dont fly much so have no first hand experience.
    No agency should be so unaccountable. One thing people can do is ask for a wheel chair when buying tickets. It will get you through the lines quicker with, maybe, leass groping. Nobody can tell you that you dont need one. If only all flyers could go on strike for one day, based on TSA behaviour -that would get attention

      1. Yeah, I sure don’t think Obama will do anything about the TSA. Seriously, in November I will vote for him for one reason only: lesser evil.

  3. “It is worth noting that once TSA was involved and had to question me about the meaning of my shirt, they did treat me with the utmost respect and without any malice”

    Actually it was Delta and the NFTA transit police who were the bad guys here. Not saying the TSA isn’t messed up, but this isn’t actually their bad.

    1. Yeah, I hate to defend the TSA, but I was going to make the same point. According to Arijit’s story, the NFTA cops were being total thugs, Delta was being ridiculous, and the TSA agents were basically just like, “Well, this is stupid, but it’s been elevated to us so we have to do some basic follow-through now.”

  4. “My theory is that the people hired to police airline security have generally been powerless individuals then thrust suddently into a position of power that allows them to order anybody around.”

    Stanford Prison Experiment. Pretty much anyone put in a position of power will become jerks over time. If they’re allowed to.

      1. Interesting, thank you. I knew that Zimbardo was something of a controversial figure, but didn’t know of the specific criticisms.

    1. That was one of my first thoughts too: see if Bruce Schneier has commented on it. Bruce is to security and the TSA what Jerry is to evolution and religion.

      I like how Bruce leaves it open to the commenters to try to explain the higher-than-expected poll results. Some amuseing replies.

  5. I’m going to be flying a lot at the end of this year and in the first half of next year – I am already stressing about the TSA: my experience of them is that even when they are not outright rude, they are almost consistently unprofessional, taking a pleasure in being deliberately awkward. One example was the man who muttered questions at me and when I politely asked him to repeat the question put his face up to my ear and yelled. Mind you, I DID promptly complain and had the pleasure of seeing him replaced by someone else. I think even his colleagues were a bit shocked by him.

  6. I certainly agree with your psychological explanation of TSA agents’ behavior. Giving small people any kind of power usually leads to abuse. Immigration officials often display the same tendencies.

    And I certainly agree that the agents involved in this incident — along with the Delta pilot — behaved totally unprofessionally.

    As for the T-shirt: Sorry, but any mention of the word “bomb” at an airport has been off-limits for as long as I can remember. That said, the correct, professional response of the agents would have been to immediately and politely tell Mr. Guha that he needed to change his shirt (or turn it inside out). End of story.

    1. Nonsense. The correct, professional response is to investigate Guha to determine if there is any threat or if the man is just being a jackass. And if he misses his flight because it takes that long to show that he’s just being a jackass, then perhaps next time he won’t be a jackass.

      1. All problems have a starting point and then the chaos, frustration, and animosity escalates from there. The initial problem in this case was an attention-garnering T-shirt that surely the wearer realized might be annoying to some and possibly disruptive. He got the attention and disruption he was seeking and it bit him on the butt. I’ll bet he’ll think twice about wearing that T-shirt on another flight. The TSA and other entities responsible for our flight safety are not required to have a sense of humor and the airline/pilot is not required to let you fly just because you have a ticket. Lesson learned?

        1. Lesson learned? Yes, the authoritarian mindset is terrifying, you display its blundering stupidity well.
          Advice to any budding terrorists. Have two teams target the aircraft. One team consisting of a few people wearing disrespectful tea shirts, some one dropping the word bombe in casual conversation (probably chatting about decoding the enigma machine) you get the idea. It would help if this team were blessed in melanin.
          The other team of course is composed of straight, lily white professional looking dudes, not college professors obviously, booked into business class. So while the decoy team keeps the idiots on the job creation scheme occupied the active team can board the plane unmolested, their weapons disguised as laptops.

      2. On the basis of a t-shirt? Really?

        I’d appreciate you providing the evidence from ANY “professional” group’s manual that justifies your position.

        I’d appreciate you provide the evidence from the TSA, Delta or NFTA rules, regulations, or SOPs that justifies your position.

        You are confused about what was being the jackass.

        1. Yes, on the basis of a t-shirt.

          No, I’m quite sure that anyone in this day and age who wears a t-shirt like that to an airport is a jackass.

          1. Absolutely. Must kowtow to the little pricks, so that when the real fascists take power, we will all be ready to acquiesce willingly. As Darrelle says just above (or below; not clear on the threading)), “Do not want to live in the kind of society you apparently favor.”

            I am of the opinion that Dr. Coyne is exactly correct when he says “My theory is that the people hired to police airline security have generally been powerless individuals then thrust suddenly into a position of power that allows them to order anybody around. Perhaps, dissatisfied with their own lives, they take it out on everyone else. Or maybe they’re just mean.” Admittedly, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is not exactly a new idea.

            I no longer go to baseball games at the stadium; being treated like a terrorist (I look, and ethnically am, Jewish) tells me that they don’t really want my patronage. Same concept, same tin pot dictators.

            As for Delta, they went out of their way to make my last experience miserable, and have permanently lost a customer.

        2. If you can’t see who was being a jackass perhaps you should pull your head out of your own and look around. There have been people who used bombs to blow passenger airliners out of the sky killing hundreds, and at least once, thousands of innocent people. He is an ignoramous for wearing that shirt which says more than just “bomb”. He gave up his right to say anything “snarky” to people charged with protecting our lives. I have no power and no uniform, but I wouldn’t let him fly at all. I can certainly understand why the pilot and passengers felt uncomfortable.

          1. No need to be so scared. Good thing you have no power. Do not want to live in the kind of society you apparently favor.

            1. Why would anyone, in a post 9/11 world, wear a shirt like that to board a commercial flight and then get “snarky” while being questioned? My question for you, darrelle, is how old were you on 9/11/2001 and if you were indeed old enough to grasp the situation, what don’t you understand about being afraid of somebody wearing a shirt that inappropriately satires anything about terrorism? Satire is totally misplaced at an airport. Have you considered the rights of the other passengers? The kind of society I favor takes other people’s rights into consideration. As in, he has the right to wear a dumb shirt and we have the right to keep him off the plane we are flying on.

              1. Well, I wouldn’t say I was “old,” but would say I was past my physical prime. I understand the fear, I am just not willing to let people who react to it like you do to steer my society down the path of ever dwindling civil liberties that historically has always led to the kind of society our country was explicitly designed to avoid. Not without putting up a fight.

                In this specific case, continuing to think this person was any more a threat than any other person after the initial search and questioning, is either an idiot or has ulterior motives. Anyone who thinks it was okay to treat him the way he was treated because they took offense at his satirical, but non threatening, T-shirt needs to seriously rethink their priorities.

              2. Precisely what “rights” of the other passengers did this t-shirt fail to take into account?

              3. 911 didnt scare me. Didnt make me lose perspective, sensibility, or anything else. I guess there’s something wrong with me. (shrug)

              4. @microraptor, I didn’t say his t-shirt didn’t take other people’s rights into account. I was attempting to say that the guy wearing the t-shirt isn’t the only one in this story with rights. The other passengers should be taken into account. They don’t have to be subjected to any added insecurity while flying. When the TSA agents talked to this man about his shirt, he admits to being snarky in his reply. The only person he cared about was himself. I hate it that petty bureaucrats can take advantage of lousy laws that take away our freedoms in order to treat us poorly so they can feed their own little sense of importance. I think this t-shirt guy was making it worse for the rest of us, not better. People who act like asses with no consideration for those around them (like other passengers) end up giving those dopey TSA agents more authority over the rest of us, not less. He ought to lose the attitude and treat the people around him with some respect. Then maybe he will get some respect in return. That’s the kind of society I want to live in. And darrelle, I am finished responding to your insults.

        3. Anyone who believes that I can hijack an aeroplane with a small nail-file attached to nail clippers, should have no trouble imagining that Mr Guha could do the same with a tee-shirt. Once rationality is abandoned you can justify anything.

    2. As for the T-shirt: Sorry, but any mention of the word “bomb” at an airport has been off-limits for as long as I can remember.

      This guideline applies to vocal speech because its perfectly reasonable to think someone could overhear only part of what you’re saying and get the wrong impression.

      But with a printed article or t-shirt, this sort of misunderstanding is far less likely. It is pretty much impossible to see the word ‘bomb’ in a written context and not see the context itself.

      That text has different rules should be obvious if you just consider newspapers and current events magazines. They ALL contain the written word “bomb.” On pretty much a daily basis. Sometimes on the front cover, next to pictures of bombs.

      The TSA should’ve ignored the t-shirt for the same reason it ignores carrying a New York Times or The Economist. Because no reasonable observer (in the legal sense) could construe the act of carrying such an article about bombs as a credible threat to use a bomb.

      1. Just to clarify, I’m not claiming that no text could be construed as threatening. Some text could. I’m claiming that text is much less subject to accidental, casual misinterpretation. This text cannot be construed as threatening by a reasonable observer.

        Which, to anyone unfamiliar with the concept, does not consist of an 90-IQ yokel. It consists of a person reasonably well informed about world events and able to sucessfully perform what your HS teacher called reading comprehension. IOW, someone who could look at a statement satirizing airport security and at least recognize it as a joke or political statement, even if they didn’t get the joke or think it funny.

    3. “As for the T-shirt: Sorry, but any mention of the word “bomb” at an airport has been off-limits for as long as I can remember. ”

      I agree that wearing the shirt was dumb if his goal was to travel in peace. If his goal was to make a political statement, then it succeeded admirably.

  7. A proprietor of a restaurant is not obligated to serve you because you are not a security risk. Being an intentional disruption in a restaurant is the quickest way to get booted out. The other patrons on airline have the right to not have to deal with this individual. He can go and inflict his sense of powerlessness on someone else.

    1. A restaurant is, however, obligated to serve you if you have ALREADY PAID FOR YOUR MEAL. It’s quite a mutilation of the basic concept of a contract that airlines can take your money, and then still claim absolute discretion as to whether they’re going to provide services.

  8. The TSA is a travesty. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security was a cynical political move motivated by marketing considerations. See? I am doing something to protect you from the terrorists. It is hard to think of a dumber response to 9/11 than creating the DHS. That is if your goal is to protect both the physical security and civil liberties of your country’s citizens. If, however, your goal is simply the maintenance of personal power and access to personal wealth for you and your small group of peers without regard for the average citizen, maybe it wasn’t so dumb.

    The DHS and TSA are a symptom that our society is in serious danger of devolving into the type of society that this country was formed specifically to avoid becoming. I was in a position three years ago to relocate, but decided I was too attached to the US to do it. Hope I didn’t make a bad choice.

    1. Such a state is called a police state, in contrast to a rechtsstaat (it’s a lemma on Wikipedia). In The Netherlands something similar has happened last 9 years.
      The contrast with the professionalism of French security is stunning. So I suspect indeed that such measures are mainly inspired by the rabid right wish for control.

      1. to this little “L” libertarian (More concerned with liberty, less, if at all, interested in property) it is fascinating to see how many people exalt these “security” measures. Our arboraceous troll has an authoritarian streak a km wide, but I suspect it is a mm deep. What was that B Franklin quote again: They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

      2. Oh good lord. TSA sucks, yes, but DHS is just a collection of about 22 different executive agencies that already existed. Things like the Coast Guard, Secret Service, Customs, and FEMA. They were just moved under one roof.

        TSA (which I would agree is mostly theater) is about the only new operational function to be created with the creation of DHS.

        So its irrational and hyperbolic to claim DHS represents some new police state.

    2. Hard to say. I know I am happy not to have to put up with many things Americans do (been abroad for the last 20 yrs and have no desire to even visit the USA, who knows, airport security may wake up on the wrong side of the bed, and that’s it, they have the law on their side, they can do anything).

      Some countries are blatantly oppressive, so they are easy to avoid. But America? Way more tricky, just best to avoid running the chance of having your rights denied by not visiting.

      Problems are everywhere and certainly are present where I live in France, but the encroachment on the American constitution remains unabated and worries many who are not as ready as some to sacrifice the constitution for a few crumbs of dubious security.

  9. “(This is not unique to me: everyone gets mistreated.)”

    Nonsense. I’ve flown an awful lot since 9/11. Not once was I mistreated. Yes, I had to go through the routine, and yes, I’m sure it’s a pain in the ass, but contrary to what the screaming children who complain that having to take off your shoes before going on a plane is like being sent to the gulag, that was not mistreatment.

    1. How wonderful for you that your experience has been pleasant.

      Do you see that this thread is about someone else’s experience that was substantially different. Would you not consider it mistreatment?

      What would have to happen for YOU to label it “mistreatment”?

      1. “Do you see that this thread is about someone else’s experience that was substantially different. Would you not consider it mistreatment?”

        And my response was to the statement that “everyone” gets mistreated.

        As for this guy, who knows if he got mistreated or not. According to his story as stated, he may have a discrimination claim against “Mark”, but that is unlikely to succeed. More to the point, there is no “mistreatment” in investigating a person wearing that shirt, in my opinion.

    2. For the nth time (n being a function rapidly increasing with time), “A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither.”

      For “order,” read “security”.

      1. For the nth time (n being a function rapidly increasing with time), “A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither.”

        Which is a stupid maxim, since we obviously trade liberty for order/security in all sorts of ways. And not just “a little” liberty, but significant liberty.

  10. However, the Delta supervisor informed us the pilot had decided, regardless of the outcome of the multiple TSA screenings and my willingness to change shirts, that due to the discomfort my shirt has caused, my wife and I would not be allowed to board the aircraft.

    I have zero evidence for this whatsoever, but I believe the pilots are generally just being used as patsies. As in: the boss calls the cockpit, and says TSA wants to detain someone. They tell the pilot to say he/she doesn’t want them to board the plane, because the airline wants to stay in good with TSA. Failure to give the order carries an implied threat of a bad annual review and no raise, or bad scheduling, etc…

    I just can’t imagine that a pilot, going through their preflight checklist, would give two craps about what’s on some passenger’s t-shirt that she hasn’t even seen.

    1. Pilots (and flight crew) have enough to worry about to want to deal with a malcontent like this jerk.

      1. Really, someone who hates TSA will be a problem on the plane, long after their encounter with TSA has ended?

        1. Yes. Someone who decides that it would be a great idea with claims about bombs and terrorists on it, while getting on a plane, has, in my opinion, a greater chance of being a problem on the plane.

  11. Well, what you’ve presented here is a very nice, one-sided story. If you believe that on this, alone, you have enough to make a determination as to what happened (let alone to swear off an airline forever), and to accuse people of racism, then I’d suggest you are being as irrational as a backwoods snake handler.

    I, for one, fully support the captain’s decision to not permit him to board. It is ultimately the captain’s call, and I wouldn’t want someone who is so moronic as to pull a stunt like this to board the plane for which I am ultimately responsible. The crew have enough to worry about without having to deal with a moron like this guy.

    1. Okay, you’ve made your point. You needn’t keep repeating it. And I’d suggest you not insult the host. I’ve disliked Delta for a long time for other reasons; this was just the last straw for me.

        1. You have made nearly 20% of the comments on this thread, and that’s really too many. You’ve had your say and so could you limit yourself please? You’re still getting out of hand.

          1. Fine. I was simply addressing the many comments (and slur) directed at me. But I guess I didn’t realize there was a posting limit when one disagrees with the groupthink. I won’t bother your site again, Jerry.

            1. As I’ve said before, I don’t like single individuals dominating threads. And part of the reason you got people on you is because you are engaging in name-calling and were also rude to the host.

              If you want to leave for good, that’s fine with me. But you do need a time out.

              As for groupthink, that’s just another insult. There are plenty of people on this thread who disagreed with my take, and that’s fine with me.

    2. Hm…
      “he looks foreign” as a reason for further questioning in a private room (i.e., avoiding witnesses) is NOT racism?

      Get real!

      Aside from that, if there is clearly no threat, why would you refuse a passenger?

      Or do you wish to claim that TSA employees are so stupid that they missed a bomb or weapon during REPEAT checks? S’rsly?

      1. ““he looks foreign” as a reason for further questioning in a private room (i.e., avoiding witnesses) is NOT racism?”

        You have to first demonstrate that this actually occurred and that this was the reason for the further questioning. Right now all you have is the claim by the person alleging racism. The courts are filled with cases of people claiming racism falsely.

        “Aside from that, if there is clearly no threat, why would you refuse a passenger?”

        If I were a captain I would, because someone who would wear this shirt while attempting to board a flight has a higher than average chance of being a non-cooperative passenger and a problem for the flight crew, especially after being questioned on it (one can reasonably surmised that someone who thought it was a good idea to wear this shirt will be likely incensed that someone dared to question him…)

        Bombs and weapons are not the only reason why I, as a captain, might not want a person to fly on my plane.

        1. No, I do not have to demonstrate this – or do you wish to claim that the ENTIRE situation didn’t happen?

          As for “non-cooperative passengers” – that’s just a weak excuse. Would you also ban anyone who doesn’t speak English? Cause if they can’t understand you their are VERY likely not to be very cooperative……

          Basically, what you have a problem with is called “freedom of speech”, and “dislike of police states”.

          So what are your other reasons? Wearing a burkha? Speaking Arabic? Being black? Being female? Being gay? Having an opinion?

          Don’t you see that you wish to make an ordinary means of transportation a political and racial litmus test? If they don’t agree with you, they don’t get to fly….

          1. Yes, you do, unless you’re happy to just accept one side of the story. On what basis do you have to say that this guy is telling the truth? Because it coincides with your preconceived prejudices?

            Actually, people who don’t understand English very well may be very cooperative, even if they need to have more attention. There is a difference.

            No, I have no problem with “freedom of speech.” I’m just not ignorant of the law sufficient to claim that there is a right to fly a plane or to be free of investigation when wearing a shirt which talks about bombs and terrorists.

            Yawn. Yeah, everyone who disagrees with your stand against the machine is an unrepentant bigot. If that makes it easier for you to get through your life, believe what you need to.

            Nonsense. I don’t give a damn what people think. If this guy wishes to change how the system works, then making disruptive political displays isn’t the way to do it.

        2. because someone who would wear this shirt while attempting to board a flight has a higher than average chance of being a non-cooperative passenger and a problem for the flight crew

          Evidence, please.

    3. You just can’t stop denigrating this person can you? What’s up with that? Are you afraid of sarcasm? Are you afraid the terrorists are going to get us all? Why the victim blaming?

      Did you happen to notice that while you are so smugly chastising people here about making determinations based on insufficient information that you are making determinations about the T-shirt guy’s intelligence, disposition, personality, motivations and intentions based on even less information?

    4. Whether or not it was a good idea to wear the shirt, the point here is the implicit and explicit racism and overreaction of Delta and the transit cops. Guha complied with the request to change the shirt, and was cleared by the TSA. This additional delay may have been his “fault,” and I’m sure he’ll think twice about wearing that particular shirt again, but there was still time to make his flight. The completely unnecessary part was being denied boarding by Delta and treated like a threat by the transit police.

      It is probably good practice not to unnecessarily antagonize TSA personnel, cops, etc–as a general rule. But sometimes individual acts of civil protest or comment (within the law) are useful for bringing to light prejudices and inequities. I think this is a pretty clear case of that. I certainly don’t think Guha acted like a “jerk.”

      I’d add that, like one or two other posters here, I’ve experienced markedly better treatment from TSA in the past couple of years. My feeling is that the individual employees don’t make the stupid rules they’re required to follow, but they’re getting better about not being a-holes about enforcing them. And like Jerry, I can’t stand Delta for a whole bunch of other reasons–I was forced to fly them for years because I lived in the southeast, and they’re terrible. Let’s not forget they’re a southern corporation, and that yahoo mentality is pretty well represented in their employees and practices.

      1. Indeed – I will never blame a TSA employee for the rule she/he has to follow. As long as she/he attempts to apply them in a sensible way, not to the letter but with regards the intent.

        I just had this example two days ago: a medication I use is a fluid. I was NOT required to pack it into a plastic bag. When I asked they told me that fluids in such tiny amounts and in factory-made containers were not considered fluids under the rules. Similarly, the cell phone as clock example – no USING means not CALLING OUT or RECEIVING CALLs or TEXTING, not “no touching of the phone”. That’s how it should be, and I am glad to see that there has been a distinct improvement in this respect, as well as in general tone. They even say “please” now, when normal courtesy dictates that you should. (“Please put your fingertips on the glass…”)

    1. Yeah, what was Rosa Parks doing, complaining about riding at the back of the bus, when there are people in the world that don’t even HAVE buses?

    1. It stands for “OH MY GOD!!” The Z crept in when someone accidentally hit the Z key when they were intending to hit the shift key.

  12. I’ve hated Delta for a long time for two specific reasons.

    1. I had to fly them a lot in the late 80s (the curse of living in a hub) and their timeliness sucked. Doesn’t Ever Leave The Airport (DELTA)

    2. Their pre-boarding policies when my kids were young. Delta had six categories of passengers who could pre-board. Adults traveling with young children were not one of the six. Insane.

    1. Having flown Delta several times recently, this:

      “categories of passengers who could pre-board. Adults traveling with young children were not one of the six.”

      is no longer true.

  13. As has been thoroughly documented and amply stated elsewhere, the TSA and their nonsense is security theater. Maybe a person would more cheerfully submit to it if it was shown to do any good (if the TSA gave a damn about security, every single checked bag would be searched, and carry-on luggage would not be permitted.)

    That the TSA workers are officious and rude into the bargain? Right.

    1. “if it was shown to do any good”

      What was the last successful terrorist attack or hijacking on a US-origin flight?

      1. It is not unreasonable to draw the inference that because of the TSA, terrorist attacks have been prevented. However, drawing this inference, absent supporting data, seems like a correlation/causation problem.

      2. “See, it works!” Probably the oldest logical fallacy in human history, the mistake that spawned religion, punchline to a vast catalogue of fairly lame jokes but people just keep on making the same mistake over and over and over again. It’s sad, really.

        1. Not successful. One that even got started, a person that got onto a US-origin flight with weapons. There have been plenty of nominally successful attempts lately (Reid, Abumutallib) all originating outside the US.

          So, yes, we lack data on both sides of this question; but do you really think they haven’t been trying?

          We lack data on: How many have actually been stopped trying to board US origin planes with weapons and mischief on their minds? How many have decided not to try? How many boarded with weapons innocently? How many boarded with weapons and bad intent and didn’t carry through (for whatever reason)?

          Like many other things (locking your doors, etc.) if you cause the perp. to move elsewhere, that is success.

          I’m no great defender of the TSA; but zero penetrations on US-origin flights since Sept. 2001 isn’t a bad record. Zero is mighty hard to achieve, period.

          1. Since 2001, there have been 11 years without a hijacking of a US-origin passenger flight. Before 2001, there were 23 years without such a hijacking. No one with a decent level of intelligence and full determination is going to be stopped by the TSA, let alone a multi-millionaire with dozens of fanatical followers.

    2. As has been thoroughly documented and amply stated elsewhere, the TSA and their nonsense is security theater.

      Where is this “documented?” I’ve never seen that. I do see lots of unsubstantiated assertions and opinion-presented-as-fact to the effect that TSA procedures are worthless, though. I suspect no one really knows how effective the procedures are, because it’s such a difficult thing to measure.

      1. Actually, if you’ve been following WEiT for at least the last six months, you’d have seen posts where it was, in fact, documented.

            1. It’s not my job to look for evidence for your claims. Unless you can produce this “documentation,” there’s no reason to believe it exists.

      2. It’s just basic common sense. How does searching part of some of the passengers do anything? The government can’t even keep drugs out of prisons, and we’re supposed to believe that they can keep bombs off of planes?

  14. It seems to me that if the TSA agents are disrespectful, unnecessarily officious, or act to make the experience any more unpleasant than it need be, then they’re being jerks.

    And if a passenger acts to make the TSA’s job any harder than it need be, or deliberately provokes an issue (such as by wearing that t-shirt) then they are also being a jerk.

    How about the passengers be as co-operative as possible and the TSA be as polite and respectful as possible. Fair deal?

    And this isn’t about surrendering rights, it’s about a civil contract. If we make a deal with an airport/airline to transport us, we in return agree not to smoke on board, not to carry a Bowie knife, to wear a seatbelt during takeoff, etc. Not wearing a deliberately provocative t-shirt through security is simply part of the same contract.

    In the same way, if I want to comment on this blog, I abide by the host’s comment policy. If I don’t like it I can comment elsewhere. Wearing that t-shirt through airport security is a bit like demanding a right to make any comment you like on a blog — it is not a violation of free-speech for the blog owner to say no, go elsewhere.

    We all willingly accept limitations on our rights when making social contracts. For instance if I pay to go to the theatre or a violin recital I am willingly surrendering my right to talk loudly to my neighbour for that hour.

    Cooperating reasonably with security screening, helping them with their task, as part of the contract you enter into when requesting a company to provide you with transport, is not really any different.

    1. How about the passengers be as co-operative as possible and the TSA be as polite and respectful as possible. Fair deal?

      No, not a fair deal. How about they screen out security threats and not use their legal detention power to enforce their own idea of a civility code?

      TSA detaining people for not being sufficiently polite and respectful is just as unethical and corrupt as a policeman trumping up ‘public nuisance’ or ‘resisting arrest’ charges because someone called them a pig. Its wrong. They do not get to arrest or detain people for offensive speech or action – even offensive speech directed at the officer. They get to detain people who pose a security threat. That is all.

      1. just as unethical and corrupt as a policeman trumping up ‘public nuisance’ or ‘resisting arrest’ charges …

        There is a big difference between, on the one hand, the criminal law and the police dealing with the public, and, on the other hand, restrictions one accepts as part of a civil contract.

        Refusing to let you board a plane because you don’t want to fullfil your part of the implied contract is more akin to a theatre not letting you attend a performance because you don’t want to accept the implied contract of keeping silent, but instead want to exercise your free-speech rights by talking noisely to your neighbour.

        1. If there is an implied contract, it is “you can search me and my stuff, and detain me if I’m a security risk, because doing that to others keeps me safe.”

          But there is not, was not, and never will be an implied contract that to travel across the US, citizens must give up their right to speech criticizing the government.

          And it is manifestly not like talking loudly, because noise ordinances and similar rules do not regulate the content of your speech, they regulate the manner of speech. This is very clearly a content regulation because you can obviously wear t-shirts with political messages on them – thousands go through screening with such apparel ever day – but evidently not if the message criticizes TSA.

          1. This is very clearly a content regulation because you can obviously wear t-shirts with political messages on them – thousands go through screening with such apparel ever day – but evidently not if the message criticizes TSA.

            Sorry, but this is like defending someone who falsely yells “Fire” in a crowded theater by claiming it’s just a message criticizing the theater’s fire safety provisions. The man’s t-shirt did not say “I disagree with TSA security procedures” or somesuch. It said “BOMBS” and “GONNA KILL US ALL.” Whatever the intended message, it could easily be interpreted as a threat, either by TSA personnel or by other passengers. Requiring airplane passengers to refrain from making “jokes” in public about bombing planes while they’re in the air travel security system most definitely is NOT the same thing as requiring them to “give up their right to speech criticizing the government.”

    2. You do realize he was just wearing a fucking T-SHIRT, right? All this mess over a t.s.h.i.r.t.

      Maybe this will help you stop being scared of brown people in public places: the odds of being the victim of a terrorist attack is ~1:10,000,000. Do some Googling and take a deep breath man.

      1. Maybe this will help you stop being scared of brown people in public places …

        I can’t “stop” being scared since I’m not currently scared. Yes, it was only a t-shirt, and yes, everybody over-reacted (a quick questioning followed by a wave through would have sufficed), but making a joke about bombs (even a political and satirical one) while passing through airport security is a bit dumb. It’s also disrespectful to the security guys, since they obviously have to take at least some note of any “bomb” joke.

        And in reply to eric:

        No-one is restraining him from criticising the government — he can start a blog and write whatever he likes about this (oh, he has). It’s just that bomb jokes while passing airport security are inevitably going to be problematic.

        And is this really about criticising the government or TSA (as oppose to making a terrorism/bomb joke)? Note that the TSA cleared him.

        1. Yes coelsblog, it really is a joke about (DHS and) TSA.

          The big DHS Eagle (the shield its carrying is the DHS logo) clutching shoes and a dripping baby bottle in the center of the shirt might have given that away.

          Now I don’t expect every passer-by to recognize that particular eagle (even though they really should get the shoe reference). But TSA agents have it sewn on to their shirts. So yes, they should’ve gotten the joke and not acted on it, the same way I expect an FBI agent to get that a Female Body Inspector t-shirt is a joke and not grounds to arrest someone for impersonating a federal agent.

          Of course if the shirt holding a giant version of the patch every TSA officer wears wasn’t enough to alert them to the fact that this was satire about their agency, the “alert level bloodred” and the “take off your shoes moisture” should be enough to get through to even the most obtuse. Don’t you think?

      2. I imagine the odds of being a victim of a terrorist attack perpetrated by someone wearing a t-shirt making fun of the TSA are even lower.

  15. “And as for Delta, I’ll take my business elsewhere.”

    I’ve made that vow about so many airlines I am practically on my own do not fly list.

  16. Wow, terrible story.

    This is true:

    Delta Airlines and the TSA should apologize to Guha and his wife and issue a public apology. Further, Delta should reimburse him for his expenses and give him at least one free flight”

    But the local yokels should do the same!

    This is an incident of wire-brushing someone because you [the TSA/Delta/Local cop] doesn’t like the set of their jib — and just because you can. Clear abuse of power. Clearly ridiculous on the parts of: TSA, Delta, local cops. They can inconvenience you and therefore they will.

  17. Recently, in an airport security line, I noted two passengers who ran up wanting to go to the head of the line. They were late for their flight, which was leaving in about 25 minutes. [My estimate of the line was 15 minutes and was very accurate — I’ve been in this airport many times.]

    The passengers tried many ways to wheedle their way out of standing in line. The TSA person eventualy said: “You can go to the front of the line if you ask every person in front of you and they let you.”

    The passengers bitched and moaned the whole way and got through security in plenty of time to make their flight (I saw them, they did not run after clearing security; it’s a small airport).

    Afterwards, I said to my wife that I would have let them go through. She said: “no way!” based on the principle: “Your bad time management is not my emergency.” I’m sort of divided on it; but I see her point.

    Another time, long ago, I had to get to an airport and woke in the morning to find a blanket of snow on the ground (in a city that does not deal well with snow.) I immediately left home (dropped plans for a taxi) and drove myself — way early, through hours in traffic to make my flight on time, and did. As I was checking in, several people ran up and wanted the airline to hold their flights — which were leaving in 5-10 minutes (they were still at check-in, outside security, the airline did let them cut to the front of the line.)

    Where do you draw the line? If people get to claim emeregency when they arrive late, they’ll just od it all the time and the routing system will go down.

    [FWIW, I’ve personally had almost completely good experiences with the TSA.]

    1. I have seen airport staff bring passengers to the front of the line in some cases. Typically it happens when (1) some connection outside of security is late (like a bus or international flight, or (2) the lines are moving much slower than anticipated, and people who *did* arrive the requested 1-2 hours ahead of time are at risk of missing their flight.

      Of course its a sort of rob-peter-to-pay-paul solution because now everyone else is taking longer to go through security, so now more people that behaved responsibly are at risk of missing their flights. So its not a long-term solution. But it can be a sensible solution to a temporary security staff shortage or other random issue.

      Personally I’d probably let the first group to try it go ahead of me. I’d be more skeptical of a second group because they might just be bandwagoning.

  18. I have no sympathy for this person at all. When you try to board a plane wearing a t-shirt that says “BOMBS” and “GONNA KILL US ALL” you’re asking for trouble.

      1. I agree that the response was disproportionate. However, I would never wear a shirt like that to an airport. Seriously?

        He wanted to provoke a reaction and he got one: Just more than he had hoped for.

        It’s fine to criticize the TSA. Write or call your congressperson or senator. Contact the TSA’s complaint department. Write a letter to the editor of your newspaper. Put stuff up on your blog … er … web page. Don’t provoke them at the airport. Hello?

        I had to advise my kids for quite a while not to make any comment that might be construed as a joke about guns, bombs, terrorists, etc., at any time in an airport, let alone in the security line or when speaking to a security person. Basically, I told them never to use such words in an airport, period.

        Another important factor to remember: Cops have no sense of humor (at least on the job). They have it trained out of them (humor is a technique of manipulation after all). Never, ever, try to joke with a cop (if you value your time and money.)

    1. But bombs are one of the more likely things to kill us all. At least as likely as starvation and malnutrition-related diseases (I am of course, averaging over us all, including people who live in poor countries). Whether the bombs are launched out of politics (America versus Russia and/ or China), religion (Pakistan versus India or America+Israel versus Iran), or economics (China or anyone who thinks they can make a buck from a war versus any appropriate target), it doesn’t much matter ; the death toll is still likely to be substantial.
      I often wear a tee-shirt the proclaims “Too stupid to understand science? Try Religion!” It may be provocative (deliberately), but that doesn’t make it any the less true.

  19. This incident is despicable. But (sad to admit!) Woody is right that not everybody gets mistreated.

    My experience with the TSA, flying to and from the US for business and holidays several times a year over the past several years, has been only good, even when there were suspicious items in my luggage. (The officer even let me keep the jar of marmalade in my carry-on bag, which was technically a prohibited “gel”.)

    Do you think the better staff are allocated to international flights? Or is it just because I’m a 51yo white male “professional”?

    /@

    1. It’s the 51 year old white male professional part, giving you a “natural” air of authority, including over those authoritarian idiots. Are you, by any chance, tall and deep voiced, too? That would certainly seal the deal.

      Forgive me for not looking up and presenting them, here, but there are sociological studies to back this up in terms of everyday behaviors in American and perhaps western culture.

      I suspect TSA hires based on brain size, or at least some sort of intellectual measurement, i.e., the smaller the better, for them.

      They would love an authoritative leader type. Oh, and one more factor impresses them: money. Anyone looking like a rather rich business type (Romney-esque, you might say), tops their list of pseudogods to whom they kowtow.

    2. Do you think the better staff are allocated to international flights? Or is it just because I’m a 51yo white male “professional”?

      I regularly fly both domestically within the U.S. and internationally. Like you, I’ve never had a bad experience with the TSA. I’ve never even observed any “bad” behavior by a TSA employee that I can recall. The worst I can say about them is that they’re sometimes a bit slow and inefficient. But in general I find them to be polite and competent. I’ve never really understood why some people make such a fuss about airport security. Occasionally, you’ll get stuck in a long line at a security checkpoint, but most of the time the lines are short and move fairly quickly and it really is a very minor inconvenience.

      1. Perhaps, if you observe closely, you’ll notice what the guards are seeing, to make them pick on some rather than others. I’ve done this since the mid-80’s, just watching how the public treats one person relative to another, and there are trends.

        1. Everyone is profiling everyone they encounter, all the time. That’s called human interactions: We are keen observers of how others behave and we trust/distrust, cooperate/resist, like/dislike, group/ostracize people based on our observations. We are incredibly focused on eyes and faces, though body motions, posture, tension are important too.

          I’ve done some informal experiments (and I’m sure scientists have done proper experiments like this) where I made tiny alterations to faces that evoked huge changes in emotional response to the face.

          Ant’s experience (mine too) is mostly based on that 51-yr-old white male, middle-class, professional thing (me too, yay 1961!, yay university education!). How many of this type of person try to board airplanes with weapons and ill intent? Basically, zero. This is profiling on a more subtle level.

          What Mr. Guha engaged in was direct provocation of cops. This is not an intelligent move.

          I agree that the response was disproportionate; but like GaryW, I think he should have expected a bad experience, even if one not as bad as this.

          1. I’m afraid I can’t agree with you on the reaction to Guha’s t-shirt. It was a freakin’ t-shirt.

            Terrorists don’t blantantly label or otherwise announce themselves, before bringing out the guns and bombs. They sneak in. That’s what makes it terrifying: No one is supposed to know it’s coming.

            Nothing is really hidden by a t-shirt. That’s why women wear bras and why wet t-shirt contests are so popular.

            Meanwhile, the unnecessary attention aimed at picking on one guy for having the outrageous audacity to wear such a shirt meant that a real terrorist might have gone right past the security defenses. That is the greater problem, here.

            Don’t like his shirt? Don’t you wear one, then. If all the rest of us showed up in such a shirt, in solidarity with Guha, you can imagine that we’d all get pepper sprayed and tazed, but this excessive force has to stop. Were a civilian, someone not in a police-type job, to do what the police and TSA and others are getting away with, now, we’d go to jail for a long time, and some would get the death penalty. Uniforms do not confer rights to brutalize or kill, nor even to provide punishment. Punishment, when appropriate, is to be meted out by the courts.

              1. You obviously realize that is not a fair comparison, as the unwritten, merely heard joke could be misunderstood, particularly by those in uniform at that level.
                So, in return, I ask you, “Troll much?”

            1. “Uniforms do not confer rights to brutalize or kill, nor even to provide punishment”

              He was inconvenienced …

              1. Were he to sue in court and win, he’d likely be compensated for his time and the costs involved in the overnight stay, not only for himself but for those traveling with him who were deemed guilty by associated and treated to the same losses.
                The cost of those compensations would be punishment to the losing defendents, and therefore, those are not mere inconveniences but actual punishments.

            2. I’m happy to stand by this:

              What Mr. Guha engaged in was direct provocation of cops. This is not an intelligent move.

              1. You conflate provocation with breaking the law and breaking the law with giving “cops” the right to deliver retributional punishment.

                By your standards, walking up to a policeman and telling her she’s ugly is grounds for being maced, tazed, and battoned, before being arrested for resisting arrest.

                How “provocative” is a woman in skimpy, skintight clothing? Should the “cops” go after her, too? Maybe she’s a danger for attracting hormonally crazed, gun-toting rednecks.

      2. I haven’t had a bad experince either. But then again, no other passenger has ever complained about my appearance.

        It seems to me that the judgement of whether they are doing a good job cannot be based solely on when things go right. It also has to be based on what happens when things go wrong and get wierd.

        If they can handle nonissue passengers with ablomb, but do all the wrong things when issues actually crop up, this is a sign that they are poorly trained, ill-equipped to do their job, or are not doing it well.

        Having said that, from the original story it appears this guy has flown with this shirt several times before, without problem. So the problem seems to be with this particular local staff, not TSA writ large.

        1. Having said that, from the original story it appears this guy has flown with this shirt several times before, without problem.

          If by “the original story” you mean Guha’s blog post, I don’t trust the accuracy of his account at all. But as far I’m concerned, anyone who tries to board a plane wearing a t-shirt like that deserves, and should expect, to have a problem.

            1. Most people don’t seem to have any problem with the idea that you shouldn’t make “jokes” about bombing planes when you’re in the air travel security system. It seems to me a simple and reasonable rule to avoid misunderstanding and disruption and needless anxiety. This man violated that rule. He behaved like a jerk. If you can’t grasp this, it’s your perspective that’s screwed.

          1. Translation of “should expect to have a problem”: Should be punished, severely enough to terrify him into never doing this again, and in front of others so they, too, are terrified of ever doing whatever it is, ever again.

            What a dangerous trend…

  20. TSA must be satisfied that they have successfully destroyed the Fourth Amendment and will now try eliminating the First Amendment. Now Delta is participating in the assault on liberty. Flyers should boycott Delta and the airline sued for millions.

    There have been three TSA profiling scandals in a year. The first was at Newark airport in June 2011 and another that TSA covered up in Honolulu after employees there complained that BDO’s were deliberately harassing Latinos. TSA excused itself finding no profiling and even promoted one of the accused in Hawaii.

    Representative Bennie Thompson called for TSA to suspend the program in November 2011 and now another incident identical to the one in Hawaii occurs in Boston.

    How many incidents of flagrant illegal conduct does TSA have to commit before it is replaced? The agency has defied Congress and a court order to test the, lied to Congress about owning $184 million of unused equipment stored in Dallas and tried to destroy it before GAO arrived and failed to report security breaches at Newark to conceal the failures from headquarters.

    In the past two months 35 TSA workers fired or arrested and 66 more disciplined for misconduct. Two more were arrested in the past week for theft from passengers and assault with a handgun. A known pedophile, Thomas Harkins, was exposed two months ago but remains employed as a TSA Supervisor in Philadelphia.

    There were a total of 98 TSA workers arrested in the past 20 months including 12 arrested for child sex crimes, over 26 for theft, 12 for smuggling contraband through security and one for murder. This month two more screeners were indicted for drug smuggling through security.

    TSA needs to be dismantled and replaced by an agency that understands airport security and the law. Pistole needs to be indicted for criminal malfeasance for this violation of basic human and civil rights.

  21. One must wonder how many real terrorists could pass through unnoticed, while TSA agents vented their pent up tiny-ego frustrations on someone they could bully?

    They deserve to be fired for abandoning their legitimate positions, guarding against real dangers.

    The story of Mr and Mrs Guha’s treatment is one of inexcusable bullying, complete with public humiliation and veiled threats, inconvenience and additional costs, all for no good reason. A t-shirt is not a bomb.

    I lived in NY on 9-11, was treated abusively by a flight attendent months after that, and do my best to avoid flying anywhere, since. It really seems we must boycott the system, crush them where it hurts — i.e., in their wallets — until they cry “uncle.”

  22. ‘Simples’ Don’t fly! The Airlines will soon re-think about their retards who work in airport ;’security.
    Inconvenient I know, but profits rule. Make ’em pay for all the humiliation.

  23. “Don’t trouble the trouble if you don’t want the trouble to trouble you.” (Anon.)

    “Borrow trouble for yourself, if that’s your nature, but don’t lend it to your neighbours.” (Rudyard Kipling)

  24. Security, Immigration and particular customs agents can be nasty or dismissive or angrily indifferent at the best. In my own limited experience the nicer are Australians, and they are really nice. Singapore is super professional, fast and very serviceable. Zealand agents are relaxed as Australians also. Most of other are just overwhelmed from a lot of work and papers to shuffle, that they do not have time to be nice… However my worst experiences were in the US and Canada, and once in PRC (China). In the US is not a post 9-11 effect. But after a few months of 9-11 the person in front of mine was asked very rudely why he didn’t put in the custom paper that he was carrying a wine. Place: Miami, time: 5AM. I was with the guy: they never asked for that (wines and cookies were Ok to go through without stating them in the paper. The interaction was: “do you have alcohol?”, “yes, less than 2 litters”, “ok, move on”). The official was so rude that the passenger lost his temper also (remember 5AM after a 10 hours red eye flight coming from Latin America). The agent just snapped his fingers and 2 soldiers (!) appeared and took the guy away! “Next!”. It was me and I was carrying of course a couple of Argentinean Wines and a box of “alfajores” (a type of cookies) branded “Havanna”. Entry point to the USA: Miami. I was terrified! I confessed right away my “crime” (not stating them in the card), the guy looked at me and said, “complete it, and move on”. In PRC for some reason they didn’t like my passport (done at the Brazilian embassy in Timor-Leste, I have to admit the quality was a bit …. finished in a rush). They pulled me out of the check point to a place in the back, and 3 officials were looking at my passports for 15 minutes, talking in Mandarin or Cantonese, which I have no idea. I expent these 15 minutes trying to figure out their expressions. Then they release me with no explanations. My recommendation: never smile at them, just straight face, try your best poker face, do not say anything extra, just answer “yes/No”. Also show some frightened respect if not your coolness will exasperate them also! My only recommendation: hire Aussies/Kiwis or Singaporeans!

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