TSA Surprises at BOS

Wife Gail and I were packing to return from a trip to our son’s home in Boston when I discovered that my wallet was missing! We searched house, car, and already-packed bags. Gail is good at finding lost items. I, on the other hand, suffer from “Male Pattern Blindness,” which means one can’t see a gallon of milk in the front row of the refrigerator.

Gail couldn’t find the wallet, and I was sore afraid. We left for the Boston airport, and I had no wallet, no money and, worst of all, absolutely no ID of any sort. I’ve told this story many times, and everybody keeps asking, “No I.D. at all? You didn’t have a driver’s license?” I repeat—no I.D. at all.

We arrived at the airport an hour and 15 minutes before our flight. The Delta lady explained that since I checked in online, I had no problem with Delta. My problem, she said, was with TSA and, she said sweetly, “We have no influence with TSA at all.” In other words, I was on my own.

Before approaching TSA I went into automatic ass-kiss mode. I was well aware that I was in Boston speaking with my redneck accent and that most New Englanders deem all Southerners stupid. I practiced talking without saying y’all.

I explained my situation to the TSA people and they sent for a supervisor. I stood there as time ticked away, trying not to act irritable, and fully expecting a huge, fire-breathing, redneck-hating supervisor named Guido.

Instead, a supervisor showed up who seemed to actually care about my problem and couldn’t have been nicer. His name was Mike Gibson, and I’ll never forget him as long as I live.

I suggested to Mr. Gibson— he said to call him Mike, but I called him mister—that I wrote for airport business magazine, and if he went to the website my name and photo are there. He politely ignored that suggestion, but said they could do something else and—wonder of wonders—he could get me on my flight! I was amazed, but skeptical.

After getting my name, address and ticket, he called a number on his cell phone. I am convinced that he called Abby, the computer wizard on the NCIS TV show. On the show, Abby can find out anything about anybody in about two seconds. He gave this Abby-like person my name and address. A few seconds later she asked for my zip code. Then she asked if I was married, what was my wife’s name and birthday, who lived on each side of us, and a few other questions. They were not checking what I suggested, but rather what they knew.

Then—zap—I was cleared. I made my flight and was so happy that it took a full hour before I began to worry about how the guvmint knew so much about me. Add it up, folks, between census info, licenses, Social Security, and other sources, the guvmint does have that info. That’s not the story. The story is that TSA was nice, polite, took the trouble to solve my problem, and I appreciate it.

BTW—that night I found my wallet in a pair of pants that Gail and I had both searched diligently.

About the Author

Ralph Hood | Certified Speaking Professional

Ralph Hood is a Certified Speaking Professional who has addressed aviation groups throughout North America. A pilot since 1969, he's insured and sold airplanes at retail and distributor levels and taught aviation management for Southern Illinois University.

Ralph Hood is also an award-winning columnist (he writes for several publications), a salesman and sales manager (he sold airplanes, for crying out loud!), a teacher (he taught college-level aviation management) and a professional public speaker who has entertained and enlightened audiences from Hawaii to Spain, and from Fairbanks to Puerto Rico.

  • Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), National Speakers Association
  • Past member, National Ethics Committee, National Speakers Association
  • Past president of Alabama Speakers Association
  • Member, Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame
  • Past National Marketing Mentor, AOPA Project Pilot