• Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Filthy Airport Carpet

The "TSA (Transportation Security Administration) was created in 2001, after the 9/11 attacks. It was created because airports are almost always on federal land, and thus out of the jurisdiction of local law enforcement." TSA's mission statement is “to protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.” - random internet sources.


I used to make a point of flying about twice a year for the sheer pleasure of travel. When TSA first started they worked similarly to customs inspectors, they were welcoming and polite, only escalating to authoritative action when the traveler gave cause for concern. Then I noticed that the TSA agents were displaying the attitude that one sees in prison films and books about concentration camps, worrying and bullying the public with whose safety they had been entrusted. Here is one of my experiences with the TSA:


It was an airport in the American southwest, perhaps Phoenix Airport (PHX). I was queued up with everyone else on my flight to pass through a visual inspection. "Take off your shoes and walk straight ahead." said one of the female TSA agents to each person in her best impersonation of a prison guard. Dutifully everyone was taking off their shoes and walking barefoot through to the inspection. When my turn came to take off my shoes, I looked at the filthy airport carpet, it was not just unclean and stained in large spots but possibly wet as well. "I'm not walking barefoot over that filthy carpet. " I said with all the indignation that a woman can muster. A large, male TSA agent shouldered past the female agents to confront me. "What, does she expect me to carry her?" I wanted no part of that madness, but I repeated, "Not going barefoot in that filth, I'll walk anywhere that is clean, but not there." The TSA agents and I immediately realized that the entire carpeted boarding area was filthy. The male agent scowled and jabbed his thumb indicating I should go through to the inspection area. I quick-walked, in my shoes, over the large stains and through to the inspection area without further issue.


The whole episode was disgusting, the airport so dirty, the staff so crass. And I knew that the incident could easily have gone terribly wrong for me if the TSA agents had wanted to pursue it. That was the day that I stopped flying for pleasure, too much fear in it.

Not Going Barefoot On A Filthy Airport Carpet

my feet by Annmarie Throckmorton 2021

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