Modesty small price to pay

Karl Terry

Bet you can hardly wait for your next chance to fly the unfriendly skies on a commercial airline.

The full naked body scan or the frisky pat-down search. Which will you opt for?

I guess it depends on whether you want rather unconventional vacation photos or you’re looking for cheap thrills.

I’ve been amazed, amused and mystified at the apparent outrage that’s been ignited among the traveling public since the controversy of enhanced body scans by TSA agents at airports begun. The controversy has got people like my wife, who rarely travels by airplane, talking and e-mailed indignation circulating.

One of the few trips we took on an airline happened in the 1980s and had an interesting incident at a screening in Frankfurt, Germany.

We were with a tour group and I don’t think the group of 30 or so New Mexicans and west Texans knew four words of German between us.

Changing planes there, the screeners told us in broken English something to the effect that we would have to go in two groups. The herd mentality kicked in and the harder she tried to separate us the tighter we bunched up and insisted we were all getting on the same plane.

Finally another airport worker with a little more English and a lot more tact broke the communication barrier and made us understand that what they actually wanted was just for us to separate into two lines for the screening check.

That was the first time I ever had a wand type metal detector used. It went off on my ball cap and things were fine after I figured out she wanted me to remove it.

I realize that was a pretty innocent time compared to the post-9-11 world we live in today. It irritates me to have to remember not to take a big bottle of aftershave or shampoo and while I do feel naked without my pocket knife, those inconveniences are something I’m more than willing to accept if we keep people safe.

I realize that people who fly more often than twice a decade might be more inconvenienced or even concerned about radiation from the scanners. For infrequent fliers like myself though it’s all just a part of the spectacle of strapping myself into that big bird and defying the laws of gravity with raw power and the theory of an airplane wing.

From what I can tell, even with enhanced scanning technology the image still isn’t a Playboy centerfold quality image. I have trouble figuring out what I’m looking at when a doctor hangs up an X-ray on the wall so airport scans don’t excite me.

But for those who are still a little timid I would propose that TSA make one simple accommodation. Give the person a demonstration by allowing them to look at the image onscreen while the screener himself is scanned.

If that doesn’t work out those who don’t want the scan or an intrusive pat-down to do like the woman at LAX did recently, go through the line in your underwear and see if the screener still wants to pat you down. I bet if every 10th person in line was a middle-aged guy of about my build in nothing but his tighty-whiteys things would change quickly.