Clerks roaming around my gate yesterday - All on their cell phones

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in the USA' started by FriendlySkies, Aug 18, 2011.

  1. FriendlySkies

    FriendlySkies Member

    Was waiting for my delayed, and eventually canceled, ORD-DEN yesterday.. 777 flight, so at least 250 people in the gate area. While we are waiting for more info, three blue shirted baboons stroll up to the gate area, pull out their cell phones, and start making calls.. One of them went up to the service director at the counter and it appeared that he told them to go away.

    Another clerk looked like he was a bit bored, so he decided to start playing BDO, and wander all around the gate area, cutting all of the passengers in the 1K line.

    Any idea what the (expletive deleted) these guys were doing? I suppose they could have been looking for somebody, but it was a bit unclear..
    AngryMiller and N965VJ like this.
  2. N965VJ

    N965VJ Original Member

    Sounds like they were yappin' on their personal cell phones. The average screener uses an Icom "whisper radio". Higher up the food chain, such as a Supervisory screeners, use Motorola radios.

    AngryMiller likes this.
  3. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    This is a classic example of today's generation gap. I don't pretend to understand it fully, but I do have a general appreciation for it. First off, I agree that nothing is more unprofessional than making or taking personal phone calls while on duty. However, in today's information-intense age, I'm sure that this isn't a problem just for TSA. I'm certain that a lot of other occupations face the same challenges with their workforces. Today's generation regard the mobile phone as an integral part of their lives for everything from phone calls to twitter updates or using the internet or their own little video players. This is the mark of today's information age that crusty folks like me have a difficult time accepting. Apparently, I'm not the only one.

    If these officers were on duty, then the question is whether or not they were making phone calls as part of their official duties. At my airport, for instance, we don't have enough government-issued mobile phones for our training staff, so we use our personal phones. It is not unusual to see a trainer step away from the checkpoint, for example, to take a call.

    As for personal calls, I don't know what the answer is. I wouldn't take any calls in the employee break room. Do that, and your personal business is no longer private. Just the nature of employee break rooms. Finding an empty gate with no passengers around might be an answer, but then some whiner will take pictures so they can post it here or on WhinerTalk just to show TSOs on the phone to push some rinky-dink anti-TSA agenda.

    Like I said, I don't know the answer, but trying to outlaw it from a management perspective without any relief for legitimate use is not the answer. If some of you were truly honest, you'd come up with some examples of how this behavior is not limited to only TSA. I'm not holding my breath. I expect the usual BS of "not in my company" and other similar stretches of the truth.
  4. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    1) I'm going to give the TSOs the benefit of the doubt here and assume that the cell phone use was work-related.
    2) I have some experience in transiting into secured environments, and I have never seen uniformed security officers at any facility conducting personal business on a cell phone while in uniform and in public view, nor indeed can I imagine a shift-commander tolerating such actions.
    AngryMiller likes this.
  5. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Additionally cell phones have been used to arrange baggage theft -- screener calls ahead to fellow flunky & alerts him to loot luggage in an area not covered by security cameras.

    If they're going to wear a uniform and a badge (for whatever purpose :rolleyes:) they should at least project a "professional" appearance.
  6. AngryMiller

    AngryMiller Original Member

    So we're whiners heh Bart? Nice. Your actual attitude towards the traveling public shows its true face. Thinly veiled contempt for those who travel and have the audacity to complain about TSA abuse.:mad:
    Lisa Simeone and Cartoon Peril like this.
  7. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    It's rather surprising that Bart would defend personal use of cell phones while a TSO is in uniform and visible in the public area of the airport. We have seen a number of photographs of sleeping TSOs in uniform; personal cell phone creates a similar, if less stark, impression of lack of vigilance.

    The appearance of professionalism is important to security. If travelers believe that the checkpoint is well run, they will be more likely to be cooperative and security will be enhanced. I don't think a coherent case can be made out to the contrary.
    AngryMiller likes this.
  8. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    Again, this relates to professionalism. I understand Bart to be referencing posters on another site, but the point is the same. People have the right to criticize their government, and the government employees have either take it or quit.

    Bart could simply state his case, that some of the complaints are overdrawn, and this would be much more effective. For example, I don't regard stating one's name to a TSO as legally or morally intrusive, although I believe it is ineffective as a security measure. And some of complaints about this seem to me to be over the top. But these overreactions are engendered at least to some extent by the deep suspicion which TSA has earned for itself. Recognition of this as part of a reasoned approach to this particular problem, as just one example, would I think be a preferable course of argument for a government employee to take.
    AngryMiller likes this.
  9. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    Yes, some of you are belly-aching crybabies who obsess over some pretty trivial puppy droppings. And I'll call you out on it every time without flinching one bit. Meet me in person, on the floor, and I will perform my job without giving you any indication of what I think of you. When I'm on the job, you expect me to do my job without any attitude, and I do it without any attitude. For me, 99.9% of my encounters with passengers are either pleasant or not unpleasant (meaning the person may not have been pleasant, he or she wasn't being necessarily unpleasant). The less than one percent make my job a little more challenging, but I will pull myself out of the situation and have someone else take over before allowing it to cloud my judgment or put TSA in a negative light.

    I form my opinion about the whiners from that wonderful website: FlyerTalk. The difference is that I clearly understand that it's less than one percent of all passengers who fall under that category. I don't take away that ALL passengers are whiners although you're willing to accuse me of that. So, you're a mind-reader as well as a busy-body, eh? Fair enough.
  10. AngryMiller

    AngryMiller Original Member

    Seems it was you who put anyone who complains in the whiners column. As to anti-TSA agenda I've come out and said we need security but the way TSA goes about doing it is wrong because it robs people of their dignity. Nice try though.
    Lisa Simeone likes this.
  11. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    I wasn't really defending it; I was just pointing out that this is a different generation. When I was younger, we didn't have the convenience of mobile phones. You simply had to know the location of the nearest pay phone and hope there wasn't a line whenever you took your break. My question to you is how do you deal with it in your line of work? To simply give it an ultimatum is not really a good answer with today's workforce. There has to be some middle ground, but I don't know what it is. For me, it's an issue whenever I'm conducting training. These are things that are included in a written code of conduct document that students read and sign whereas when I was younger, it was common sense.

    As for the other aspects, I was explaining that there ARE legitimate uses of mobile phones that are duty related. In my arena, I don't have enough government phones for my instructors so we've received authorization to use our personal phones. With today's phone plans, this isn't such a big issue whereas it would have been a few years ago when one had to keep track of his or her phone minute usage. And a couple of my instructors keep track of their minutes for tax credit purposes.

    I agree with you in general that using a phone in public view creates a negative impression. I'm just pointing out that there are times when using a phone is legitimate. And it's something WE have to be cognizant of whenever we whip out our phones, whether it's official business or a personal call.
    Cartoon Peril likes this.
  12. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    I agree that much of the material on FT is foolish in nature. But what matters it if a few people write a few silly blog posts? The agency is legitimately subject to criticism, and some of it has been quite cogent and powerful.
  13. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    I agree. I think criticism is certainly a good thing and TSA needs to be responsive!

    Expressing concerns about exactly how safe the radiation levels are from the AIT, x-ray machines, baggage screening machines, etc. is a legitimate concern. Scrutinizing the government reports on radiation levels is certainly yours and my right, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with a healthy dose of skepticism given the government's historical track record on similar issues. (e.g., I've been deployed all over the world, who knows what diseases or other health issues I may have from being in third-world countries even though the military gave me a clean bill of health.)

    Kind of hard to accept any argument, though, that starts off with referring to us as baboons, goons, thugs, etc. as a reasonable basis for an adult discussion. But I know that this is limited to only a handful of people and does not reflect the views of the majority of the traveling public. This doesn't mean the majority of the traveling public embraces TSA. It just means that they don't resort to such childish antics and try to pass that on as intelligent discussion.

    Fair enough?
  14. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    What is reasonable depends on the circumstances. I have seen TSOs criticized for using poor grammar in blog posts. This is counterproductive IMHO because no one loves a grammarian and it trivializes the real abuses of the TSA.

    All the same, there is a need by the critics of TSA to speak plainly. There have been ample stories that justify the appellations "goon" and "thug" and I need not repeat them here. For me perhaps the ultimate was again the Savannah train incident, where there was no justification whatever for the way people were treated coming off a train, other than the naked exercise of power. Additionally, the idea of police awaiting innocent people arriving on a train conveys deeply negative images to me. Goons and thugs indeed.
  15. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    Then don't get your panties in a wad when I use the terms snake, cupcake, pumpkin, ace or sport.
    4nsicdoc likes this.
  16. AngryMiller

    AngryMiller Original Member

    You can't believe how much it ticks me off that TSA doesn't provide TSOs with dosimeters and keep track of their on the job exposure. There is no reason to die because of your civilian job because a bureaucrat is too lazy or incompetent to protect the workers.

    It would be interesting to walk in with a scintillation counter and map out the leakage from every one of the machines. FWIW TSA self certifies their own equipment.
  17. Cartoon Peril

    Cartoon Peril Original Member

    The reason for this is that nobody would use the Chertoffomizer if proper radiation precautions were visible.
    AngryMiller likes this.
  18. Bart

    Bart Original Member

    When I worked for the private contractor, we wore dosimeters all the time. Before TSA took over, we stopped wearing them. Once TSA took over, we never wore them. When I was a lead TSO, one of the things I did was verify that the radiation inspections were current. One of the routine start-of-shift duties is to inspect the x-ray machines for potential hazards such as torn or missing lead curtains as well as current inspection stickers. I just did it all the time even when it wasn't part of my specified duties (I'm anal that way).

    The x-ray machines used at the checkpoints have low doses of radiation. The ones used to screen checked baggage have higher doses. Both machines take single shot scans. In other words, when the bag is positioned, it is exposed to a single shot of radiation, so there isn't a continuous exposure. The exposure occurs when a bag is initially introduced and is indicated by a series of lights that illuminate on both the machine and machine operator's panel. I can't give you any technical parameters because I'm not a technician.

    I agree that it's prudent to conduct frequent tests to ensure that these machines are safe. I advocate frequent tests because these machines are exposed in public areas unlike hospital machines which are isolated to restricted areas. If a night time maintenance worker accidentally damages it while mopping the checkpoint floors, for instance, I'd want to know that right away. So I partially disagree with you that the machines are unsafe. I agree with you that TSA can be more diligent to ensure the machines always remain safe.
  19. AngryMiller

    AngryMiller Original Member

    Luggage screening (carry on and checked) are one thing that probably gives the greatest exposure to the people working around them just due to the amount of radiation needed to penetrate and provide a good image. You might be anal, but how many other airports have someone either unwilling to do the inspections or who just pencil whips the daily checklist? I've seen worn/torn lead curtains at several airports in the carry on screening machines. That tells me that the managers do not care about the workforce or the passengers . Veterinary clinics in most states have more oversight of x-ray machines than does TSA.
    Bart likes this.
  20. Doober

    Doober Original Member

    Do you trust that the TSA's self-testing of these machines is adequate or do you believe that an independent outside agency, such as each state has, should determine if the x-rays are properly calibrated?
    barbell and Elizabeth Conley like this.

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