I passed my test for the TSA. They say on the sheet that it will take 48 hours to get your results back. They say at the testing facility that it will take 72 hours. The reality is that the test results are in your inbox by the time you get home. The test is two parts, the first part is basic English, the second is object identification.

The second part is the hardest & occasionally ridiculous. You have to find objects like cars in luggage. Cars & trucks, like the kind that you drive. Cars & trucks because they are assuming that people will be able to drive to the airport, pack their automobile in their luggage, lift the luggage, & then go through airport security with it.

The cars were my only real complaint about the object identification portion & that turned out to be the most difficult part of the test for me. Some of the other items you were asked to identify were strange, but I can’t say a word about that. I’ve been guilty, in the past, of bringing strange items through security.

My boss once left a couple of dental scalers in my the laptop case I was bringing through security. Only at that job, they called it the “office bag.” It was the size of a small suite case & housed a printer, the laptop, pens, paper, a credit-card machine, ordering forms, multiple cell phones. It contained the mobile office.

Only one time, in Vermont, on our way back from Canada, it also contained a couple of dental scalers. The Burlington Vermont airport is small, sometimes it is check everything & board on the tarmac small. Still, security at BTV is just as strict as anywhere else.

Those scalers almost made me miss my flight. Those scalers resulted in a strip search. Those scalers resulted in pat downs for every flight afterwards for up to a year.

When you say things like:

“What, am I going to break into the cabin & clean the pilot’s teeth?”

Well, it just doesn’t go over well. Essentially they are just dull wires on a handle with a bit of a flat edge. You could certainly kill someone with them, but I’m guessing it would take skill, training, & some serious effort. You could kill someone with them in the same way you could kill someone with a paperclip. Ok, it might be a little easier with a dental scaler, but it is certainly not go behind a drape & take off all your clothes easy.

Maybe that is not the right type of attitude for airport security. Maybe we have to be super serious & crack down hard on dentists & dental sales people. Nobody likes dentists…because no one can afford to go to them.

They will allow a fountain pen on an airplane, but not a dental scaler. It would probably be easier to kill someone with a fountain pen.

At any rate I got a “preliminary offer” which is interesting because I applied for every open listing the TSO had in the TSA. It is NOT a job offer, it is a preliminary offer & I’m not sure where that offer is.

Does it matter? The part time positions start at 30K, which is significantly more than I am making here & there is one in Alaska.

ALASKA! I’ve never seen Alaska before. I don’t know if I’ve ever been that far north before. There are mountains in Alaska. You can see Russia from Alaska, I have that on good authority, Sarah Palin can see Alaska from her back porch…I seriously doubt it, but I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Technically, you can also see Canada from Alaska.

Compared to Canada, the US TSA agents are the good guys. The Canadians are storm troopers. Sure, Montreal might be a beautiful & fun city, but you really don’t want to stay there. It is not worth crossing that border to see Canada.

England has real terrorists. The US has real terrorists. Israel has real terrorists & we are far nicer & much easier to enter.

“Why are you coming to Canada.”
“To visit my uncle.”
“Is there a Canadian that can do that job better?”

You sort of have to respect that attitude, but not when it comes to visiting relatives.

“Why are you coming to Canada.”
“Dental Convention.”
“You’re going to have to supply us with a copy of your background check before we can allow you to enter.”

That was my favorite, you know why? Because bite me Canada, I’ve been in your country before. I take a copy of my background check whenever I visit you. Do you know why? Because between immigration & your version of the TSA, you do some seriously crazy things. You are a bi-polar country. So here’s my background check, I got it just for you, just because you are such a pain.

It was interesting watching the border guard stutter when I actually produced it.

Score one for the RED, WHITE, & BLUE! The moment I cross your border I’m going to crank “God Bless America.” And maybe, just maybe, wave a couple of those little flags out the window. Just to be that guy.

When you go to Europe, whatever, its all good. There are really no complaints & you are always a little depressed when you leave. When you go to Asia, well, all you want after the first 24 hours is a western style toilet, a clean one. But when you go to Canada, there is a huge sigh of relief when the trip is over & you see the American Homeland Security agent.

You sort of want to hug him. Just pull him into a big old bear hug & scream “thank you for not being a prick!”

If I get that job, I’m going to want to hug myself.

When you travel abroad, you’re supposed to tell people you are Canadian…because you can’t fake an Aussie accent & NO ONE has ever been to Canada. If they have, if they have gone through Canadian security, you’d be better off telling people you are American.

Actually, that isn’t exactly true. An Aussie accent isn’t hard. Do a British accent, get that down, & then be lazy about it. Do a British accent & start to run your words together, drop letters, merge sounds, & suddenly you sound like an Australian.

I say that out of observation, not because I can actually do an Aussie accent, or even a decent British one. I can sort of do an Irish accent. I know where to add the extra vowels & where to drop sounds & what words like “Crack,” or whatever, mean but yeah, I’m not really an accent guy.

I can do a US southern accent, & get away with it, if I’m NOT in America. While in France, i can do the cowboy thing, because, you know, south, west, it’s all the same to them.

But yeah, I never bothered to do the “I’m Canadian” thing. I have a Chicago ball cap I wear when traveling abroad. Believe me, it makes life easier. You walk around advertising you are from Chicago, well, we do have an unfortunate international reputation. I’ve NEVER been mugged or pick-pocketed while wearing that hat abroad.

Now, I have been mugged in Detroit…but so has everyone else.

I play the Chicago accent too. A’s that can cut diamonds. Just for their benefit.

The other part of the test was basic English. What I mean by basic English is really very, extremely BASIC ENGLISH. I scored extremely high on that test. The lady at the airport said that I got in the top one-percent.

Go me!

Accept, you now, very, extremely, basic English. You know the grammar rules you learned in primary school? It is that level of basic English.

You seriously start to drool while you are taking the test. You don’t even really have to read it. The phonetic difference between “Should’uv” pronounced “should of” & “should have” is really as hard as it gets. That is honestly the hardest question on the test.

A big pile of drool forms beneath you when you take the test. You don’t even know you are doing it.

Remember when the teacher put you to sleep in high school? Remember that drool on your desk. It’s the same thing for the same reasons.

Remember that early morning, first thing your did in Junior high when the teacher posted the sentence on the overhead & you had to correct it? Remember how that put you to sleep because that was the first thing you did for the first five years of your education? Remember how it got easier as they were forced to repeat things because there are only so many ways to butcher a sentence?

That test was more basic than that.

The sad thing is that is also the part that most people fail.


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