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Scan or Pat Down - Scott Adams' Blog

Scan or Pat Down

I was traveling this weekend, and for the first time had to choose between an airport pat down search and an intrusive full body scan.  Did you know that those TSA guys don’t have a sense of humor? The conversation at the security checkpoint went something like this.

TSA Guy 1: Do you want a pat down or a full body scan?

Scott: They both sound good.

TSA Guy1: What?

Scott: If I do the full body scan, am I allowed to twirl?

TSA Guy1: Excuse me?

Scott: Can I see who’s doing the pat downs before I decide?

TSA Guy1: It’s that officer (pointing).

Scott: (sexily) Ooh, yes. That will do nicely. Grrrrrr.

TSA Guy1: (Dirty look) Step over there.

Scott: Can you help him? It will be twice as fast…for both of us, if you know what I mean.

TSA Guy2: (angry look)

The pat down guy waves me into position and tells me to put my arms up. I let out a creepy moan of delight. He sneers at me with a “Let’s just get this over with” attitude and starts in.

TSA Guy2: This will only take a second.

Scott: What if you find a suspicious package?

TSA Guy2: We don’t search for packages, sir.

Scott: That’s not what my scanner says.

He ignores me and starts patting my right leg, from low to top.

Scott: (creepily) That’s it…oh yeah…That’s what I’m talking about.

The TSA guy stands abruptly and motions over his supervisor, a woman in her early forties. By this point, I’m all in. Before she gets to us, I say one last thing to the TSA guy in a hushed voice.

Scott: Now it’s a party. She can do from my waist up.

He ignores me. The supervisor comes over.

Supervisor: (sternly) What is the problem here, sir?

The TSA guy tries to explain what’s happening, but he discovers that it doesn’t translate when repeated in a serious monotone. So he changes his approach and says something vague about me not taking the process seriously. His supervisor decides to back him.

Supervisor: Sir, if you don’t take this seriously, I’ll have to have you handcuffed.

Scott: Can I choose the handcuffs and the full body scan at the same time? I’ve been practicing some dance moves at home.  Can they burn a DVD for me?

At this point in my story I should confess that none of this actually happened. And I don’t recommend that you try anything like it.

I’m fascinated by the fact that humor and reality are intertwined. The only thing that made this story funny (if you saw it that way) was your assumption, to a point, that it really happened. This same story in the context of a fictional novel wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. That’s why you rarely see humor books on best seller lists. Fictional humor doesn’t interest modern readers, and real life is rarely rich enough to fill a book. Case in point, the best humor writer of our time, David Sedaris, apparently has the triple advantage of:

1.       Immense talent

2.       An astoundingly dysfunctional childhood

3.       No shame about embarrassing loved ones.

The reality-as-humor trend is a fairly recent phenomenon, at least in its fullness. In my opinion, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series wouldn’t have been successful if it came out today. In its time, it was a treasure. Society’s notion of humor evolves.

I have a theory that kids of this generation don’t laugh at manufactured humor, even though they consume it in great quantities on TV and in movies. The exception is any sort of fart joke. But for kids, farts are about reality.

If you have kids, do they laugh out loud at humorous TV shows or movies that do not depict reality? You might think they do, or assume they do, but pay close attention over the holiday. You might be surprised.