City Desk

Never a Dulles Moment With the TSA

fuzz"Sir, you do read and write English?"

"Yes, officer."

"So you are aware that this is a no-standing zone?"

"Yes, officer."

"And you are aware that it's five days after 9/11?"

"Um...yes, officer."*

"And that our country is at war right now?"

This pleasant exchange went down at Dulles yesterday evening between a vindictive TSA officer and yours truly. Went down at length, too—I was accused of terrorism, detained outside the terminal at which I'd dropped a friend, offered cuffs, and informed that I would "never see [my] car again." All of which struck me as, you know, overkill: My crime was standing in a no-standing zone for five minutes after entering the terminal to say goodbye.

Now, sure, I had blatantly disregarded a traffic sign and dithered slightly longer in the airport than I'd planned. But I'm not, nor have I ever been, a terrorist. And I'm usually good with cops.

This fucker was mean, though—and out to prove a point. First, he insisted that my car had been driven by a mystery individual, who—after parking illegally—had leaped into a cab and disappeared into the night. After that narrative tanked, he fell back on invocations of 9/11, Afghanistan, and "wiseasses like [me]" whom he'd dispossessed of their vehicles, freedom, dignity, &c. over the years. After demanding my driver's license, he refused to accept it, barking that I should stand "ten feet back." When I called him "sir," he accused me of "attitude." When I told him my address, he accused me of lying.

I don't hate cops. I don't mind removing my shoes at security and getting my toothpaste confiscated. I like the fact that I've never felt less than completely safe in an airport.

What I resent is the Crusader Rabbit attitude of boneheaded, ball-less individuals who think they're single-handedly staunching the tide of extremism by being tasteless pricks. No matter how much respect you show them, it's never enough—and if you're lucky enough to keep mum under their soulless tongue-lashing, you'll think twice next time you're tempted to needle your libertarian friends.

"You've got 30 seconds to get off my airport," the fellow finally told me. I gave him no lip and drove off, thankful that he had parked too far back to notice my missing headlight.

*Five days and eight fucking years, officer.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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  • Dave

    Was it TSA or MWAA Police?

  • TomHandy

    I may be wrong, but are you suggesting that 9/11 didn't change everything? Because 9/11 changed everything.

  • NovaGirl

    30 seconds to leave? I hope you left in a fog of tire smoke. You know what they say, nothing worse than a bored cop.

  • Dave2

    TomHandy --

    Stop giving terrorists so much credit, please. They don't deserve it. And 9/11 did NOT change everything. It didn't change the Constitution. It didn't change our borders. It didn't change or destroy our currency. It didn't bring invading foreign troops into our cities and towns. It didn't destroy our local, state, or federal government structures. It didn't plunder our treasury. It didn't burn down the White House. It didn't cause a U.S. civil war. It didn't destroy our schools, hospitals, companies, museums, parks, etc. It didn't ruin our environment. It didn't etc. etc. etc.

    What we do to ourselves is another matter entirely.

  • Ted Scheinman


    Pretty sure TSA, but we've put a call in. Will update if/when the media folks get back to us.

  • Edward Hasbrouck

    TSA *and *cops at Dulles have a track record:

    Unanswered questions at Dulles Airport

  • Simon

    Now imagine that you were a Hispanic U.S. citizen. You'd spend the next three hours with ICE yelling at you that they're going to send you back to Mexico.

  • liam

    Dave2, I'm pretty sure that TomHandy is joking. Isn't that a line from Family Guy?

  • huh?

    liam, you just might be right. but, unfortunately, sarcasm doesn't play well when written on the internets.

  • former staffer

    If there's one thing that annoys me more then anything it's douches who ignore the no standing rule at the airports. The only thing worse is when a douche pulls in front of where you are standing waiting to be picked up and stands blocking the car attempting to pick you up.

    He should have given you a ticket.

  • unimpressed

    The cop may have been an asshole, but he wouldn't have been an asshole if you hadn't been an asshole first.

    Maybe you oughta get that asshole lawyer Pepin Tuma to argue your case, cause he hates asshole cops, too. You two have much in common.

  • 4m123

    If we don't stand in no-standing zones, the terrorists win. Bravo, Ted!

  • Jamie

    The cop was a douche. On the other hand, you should have had your car towed away immediately for being stupid enough to leave it double-parked in a no-standing zone at the airport.

    You LEFT YOUR CAR, unattended, at the curb in the loading and unloading zone and entered the airport. Who does that? Haven't you noticed that even if you sit there IN your car to wait for someone, you usually get yelled at within 30 seconds? 9/11 or not, you deserved towing.