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The World Is Their Ashtray

I was in the security line at the airport this morning behind a couple who looked to be about my age, in their late 20’s. I hate TSA checkpoints as much as the next person, but I always try to minimize my time spent in them – and the time of others behind me in line! – by getting my liquids out beforehand, taking my belt and jewelry off as I’m waiting in line, etc. I also never stand at the end of the checkpoint and get dressed and situated again, as that always causes a backup for everyone else. Unfortunately, the couple in front of me were not so courteous.

They caused an enormous backup at the front of the line while they rooted through their bags, tried to find their liquids, got their laptops out, etc. The TSA agents kept asking them to move their things down the conveyer belt so as to relieve some of the backup they caused. Then, at the end of it all, they stood there getting everything situated and placed back in their bags. This, too, caused a huge backup, to the point where luggage couldn’t come through the other end of the machine because their stuff was in the way. My laptop was right behind one of their bags, and when it was pushed sideways and nearly fell onto the floor because of the pileup made from their luggage, I had enough.

I pushed my laptop down the line a bit so I could grab my bag and get out of there. This caused their luggage to move down the line as well (which they should have done out of courtesy for everyone else anyway). I then asked them to move down so others could get to their belongings.

The woman said, “You can see we have a lot of stuff, so you just need to wait a sec.”

I replied, “I can see that, but my laptop almost fell on the ground because of the pileup caused by your luggage. You need to move your things down a bit.”

Her partner got in my face at that point and said to me, “**** you. You’re ugly, anyway.”

I just gaped at him for a second, then grabbed my bag and walked away. I’m still upset about this! Being rude in the TSA line is one thing – nobody is happy to be there – but this was just ridiculous!   1106-13

We have a saying in our family to describe people like this – “The world is their ashtray.”  The world revolves around them and must accommodate their “stuff”.   Their stuff is an extension of themselves and everyone else must honor the personal space of their stuff.    And when they are done with their stuff, they discard it with no apparent concern for how it affects others.


{ 70 comments… add one }
  • Kylynara November 7, 2013, 7:43 pm

    OP – Let me join the rousing chorus that you did the best you could and some people are just jerks.

    I more want to reply to some of the comments. BooHoo isn’t exactly wrong in making sure she keeps her stuff in sight. Lerah99 (#15) described how people do take other people’s bags and items airport security. It is reasonable to protect yourself against that. That said unless you are traveling alone your best bet is to have your companion a couple spots in front of you with most the bags. If you are traveling alone, you should only have two bags tops (plus 2-3 trays, place them between your bags.) which shouldn’t take too much waiting at the end.

    Someone else said that it is entirely possible to get through the line without holding up other fliers, and that is true if your party consists only of people capable of managing for themselves. We fly to China every couple of years to visit my in-laws, and while I pride myself on planning and getting through security quickly and with as little hassle as possible. It is simply not even half as doable with a toddler in tow. Besides the extra stuff (stroller and car seat, not to mention 14 hours worth of toys) you also have a little person who is tired of sitting and wants to run (on the return flight you have to go through security again after customs if you have a connecting flight.), has no understanding of what you are doing and why and adding things like liquids and laptops to your already full of carry-ons hands while still being able to randomly lunge after the toddler is just not advisable. Not to mention that moving to a bench with everything out would probably take a good 3 trips with stuff being left unattended somewhere. Sorry, we just have to stay at the end while we wrangle all of your stuff back.

  • Whodunit November 7, 2013, 8:47 pm

    There are way too many posters in here that have NO business posting your ungracious and rude comments. Retaliating by calling someone an idiot lacks social graces and consideration. Learn some manners before putting in your thoughts.

  • Snowy November 7, 2013, 8:49 pm

    Planning ahead works both ways. You *know* you’re going to have to present liquids, take off jewelry, etc. Pack your liquids together in a bag. Get things ready while you’re standing in line. Have a plan! Sometimes you can’t avoid taking a while, but if you can, it’s only fair and kind to do so. Don’t expect the world to do extra planning ahead so you don’t have to do any.

  • Maggie November 7, 2013, 8:58 pm

    BooHoo – I just want to know how you were able to carry that much stuff to begin with… Airlines generally limit you to one carry-on and one personal bag (purse, backpack, briefcase, etc.). Your small items would be in a small bin. How hard is it to just grab it and move out of the way???

  • NostalgicGal November 8, 2013, 1:19 am

    BooHoo, (and the others too)

    I traveled across country midsummer and I mailed my luggage ahead; and carried my laptop, medkit and meds, the clothes on my back, cellphone and cord, and my paperwork and boarding pass. With connecting flights and delays all over.

    I understand some concern about your stuff, but. Try booking flights so you are not going through TSA at the height of business, like beginning of day instead. Then you are less likely to cause ‘backups’.

    Be organized yourself. I have a very large graphics crunching laptop that is quite expensive if I had to replace it, but it is vital for what I do. I found out that the new bag I got for it, it fit just fine, but found out at the last moment the wallwart made things ‘not fit’ and. On return flight I was going through at noon and it was backing up bad, I could still keep an eye on the computer and knew it went into the machine as I went to stand and be scanned/whooshed then exit. I didn’t have to stop traffic to do so… Then.

    The couple behind me I didn’t know they could drag that much unchecked onto a flight even if they were (platinum members).. and no baby bag, stroller, kid stuff or walker, either. Then my laptop had to go through twice and ended up behind their MOUND (I’m amazed some of that stuff fit in the scanner). TSA was trying to push the tubs down and that big clot was backing things up, the couple got irate at my audacity to be so RUDE as to reach around them into the mouth of the exit of the scanner and retrieve my laptop (I had the rest of my stuff, and it was halfways out, removed the tub too and handed it over) and move beyond them to do the stuff it in bag and leave. (I can ig-nore ‘dry up and blow away’ death stares). Meanwhile they are not doing much about the mound and TSA is still trying to shove stuff down and they start getting upset at the TSA… and there’s four people waiting behind me now for their stuff… that can’t come through.

    I left before I found out how that sorted. I didn’t see them on my end of the world as I played weather delay/try to reschedule. I know Boohoo, about there being reports about stuff being lifted by TSA or others when going through the process… but. At the same time it’s being CONSIDERATE of others.

    And the OP’s meeting of the Twins of the couple I met; is probably going to become more common than not.

  • Peppergirl November 8, 2013, 2:00 am

    I honestly don’t know which is worse, the comment by BooHoo or the fact that there are people reading it and replying and sticking up for him.

    Appalling and disappointing.

  • Kimstu November 8, 2013, 3:10 am

    @OP: “I pushed my laptop down the line a bit so I could grab my bag and get out of there. This caused their luggage to move down the line as well (which they should have done out of courtesy for everyone else anyway). I then asked them to move down so others could get to their belongings.”

    OP, I totally sympathize with your irritation and applaud your restraint. But I think your request to the rude obstructive people to move their stuff AFTER you had successfully managed to retrieve your own stuff, while certainly not unreasonable, was unnecessary and not constructive.

    It’s not your job to help manage the TSA checkpoint throughput, or to be the “courtesy police” explaining to rude people why their behavior is inconsiderate. If you need to gently push one of your items forward against a rude obstructive person’s stuff to reach your other item, you should just do that while murmuring a not-too-heartfelt “Excuse me” (perhaps accompanied by a cold stare), grab all your stuff and leave.

    Starting a conversational exchange in a line of strangers by reproving rude people for their inconsiderate behavior just delays the line a little bit more for everybody. And as you discovered, it doesn’t do a doggone thing to make the rude people any less rude.

  • keloe November 8, 2013, 7:15 am

    Last time I flew I almost kicked a guy (but in the end I didn’t. I didn’t even say anything. He’s lucky looks don’t kill, though).
    This is Europe, so security is not that tight. It’s still there, though, and on that particular day and time the airport was busy, most of the x-ray machines were running and the lines were long. The security agents did their best to keep things moving, but could only manage it if everyone cooperated.

    In front of me in the line were two businessmen (Italians, if I remember correctly) with those little suitcases. People on obvious business trips are usually good in these situations – they don’t have much stuff and have good experience with air travel. However, one apparently managed to completely forget that he has toiletries in his suitcase, because he looked quite surprised when asked about it. They got his suitcase back out and told him he needs to put all liquids in the bag and instead of stepping to the side to let other poeple through, he proceeded to unpack it right in front of the machine, blocking it very efficiently. The toiletries were stuffed in various places – not even in one bag – and all the time he was chatting to his companion, blissfully oblivious to the deadly looks he was getting from everyone.

    No one else could go through because security actually makes sure that people go through the gate same time as their bags ride through x-ray. In the end I just walked around him and shoved my stuff into the machine from the side. The security didn’t say anything to me, so I guess they didn’t mind. Other people did the same.

  • MamaToreen November 8, 2013, 8:41 am

    Didn’t the agent in charge say something? That’s part of their job.

  • Gee November 8, 2013, 11:11 am

    You just know that someone knows they’re in the wrong, but don’t want to admit it when they have to resort to, “Oh yeah, we’ll you’re ugly!” What are you, 5 years old?

  • Abby November 8, 2013, 11:59 am

    I agree with Kimstu (#57). Trying to be the courtesy police is a thankless endeavor, one that is likely to get a reaction like the one OP received. OP was right that they should be courteous, but pointing out to someone his or her rude behavior is generally going to be the catalyst for more rude behavior.

  • Jessica November 10, 2013, 5:29 am

    I AM a Security Guard and believe me if the OP had said something the offender would have been escorted away for threatening behavior.

  • Angel November 10, 2013, 8:01 pm

    Although I think the OP handled it as well as she could have given the circumstances, if that had been me, I probably would have just grabbed my stuff and went around them. I like to treat people like this as if they do not exist.

  • Elizabeth November 11, 2013, 10:33 am

    Sadly, there are rude people everywhere and we all take our turn in experiencing them. As a frequent flyer, I try to be patient with those less familiar with the screening process but some things are quite obvious, like moving down the line and away to reorganize yourself and your luggage. BooHoo, you are the person we all roll our eyes behind.

  • Jaxsue November 11, 2013, 12:30 pm

    What Elizabeth said^. I am an experienced flyer, and I can have my items ready for scanning in about a minute. Intentionally holding up the line is, quite simply, rude.

  • Daria November 11, 2013, 3:12 pm

    I have to agree with Kimstu. While this is not really an etiquette issue, from a manners standpoint the OP had no standing to reprove strangers on behalf of the traveling public in general. The efficiency and operation of the checkpoints is up to the TSA staff to enforce; blurting out a rebuke to people whose behavior you don’t like is out of line. Satisfying, perhaps, but good manners does not always allow us to behave in a self-righteous manner toward strangers.

  • TJ November 14, 2013, 6:07 pm

    I think I know what BooHoo is talking about but perhaps didn’t articulate as well. I usually wait until all my bins have at least hit the belt before I walk through the scanner. It honestly has never backed up the line because if the belt isn’t moving, neither are the people on the other side. So as I’m going through the detector my stuff is going through the scanner and we all end up on the other side at the same time.

    I think the posters who commented questioning if people really steal stuff with all that security around I think the answer is yes. How hard is it to take a wedding ring or an ipad and slip it into your bag and walk away. I think there’s degrees of reasonable and as long as you’re not blocking up progress then who cares.

    I know exactly the people the OP is talking about. The little rollers at the end didn’t roll their stuff all the way to the end and neither did they. They stand there and prevent everyone else from getting to the things coming out of the machine. Simply rolling their stuff forward is fine. It’s a belt. On rollers. Maybe they just don’t get out much. They’re probably the same people that make most of Europe think the US is full of boorish idiots.

  • Cat November 15, 2013, 3:04 pm

    There is nothing to be done about these folks other than be thankful that you are not their parent or married to them. I smile, think how lucky I am that they won’t be showing up at my house for the holidays, and go on my merry way.
    It’s all you can do.

  • Enna November 28, 2013, 2:02 pm

    OP – that person might say to the wrong person one day like a police officer. I supose the only thing you could of done besides walking away is reporting him to sercurity for being offensive.

  • NostalgicGal December 1, 2017, 6:38 pm

    I recently flew and I can say that a lot of the TSA lines added MORE line to the front and back of the machines. Especially after. You can have a minute now to get your stuff back together, and there’s room for getting your stuff arranged before the machine. And the places I went through were really good about having enough tubs and moving them from the end to the front on little racking carts.

    You still need people to pay attention and handle their stuff though, and past the machine, TO MOVE DOWN. One traipse through I did need an extra few minutes to get my act back together and I kept moving my tubs down as the ones ahead of me left, and I was dumping empty tubs as I could. (I ended up with four going through, my techtote they decided they wanted completely emptied).

    Hopefully the extra line space has been instituted at most every major airport now. Even my semi small feeder end airport has lengthened their processing lines.

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