Standards Are So High That All Must Pass, Instructors
Edition: After years of being crucified in the press for
stripping travelers of harmless items while letting guns, grenades
and meat cleavers onto airplanes with clockwork regularity, the TSA
has finally done something about it. (We mean, besides put
journalists who criticize the Agency on the terrorist watchlist).
Hundreds of TSA Screeners met in Dallas recently for intensive
weapons recognition instruction.
"It was pretty bad," said chief instructor, R. Lee Ermey. "These
screeners came in here lob-gogglin' and half-steppin' and they were
pitiful." How bad was it?
"Real bad. Some of these guys and gals wouldn't recognize a
shotgun if you walked up and hit 'em upside the head with it."
Aero-News wondered if screeners like that were even
"Sure they are," Ermey said. "Heck, you can train anybody to do
anything. They train actors to play Marines! By the time a screener
gets through this training, if you hit him upside the head with a
shotgun he will properly ID it as a shotgun three out of five times
-- when he recovers consciousness. And some of the other two out of
five have a pretty good idea it was something that shouldn't go on
a plane, even if they can't remember its proper name. Getting a
good whack upside the temple will do that to ya."
"These screeners ARE
trainable," Ermey insisted. "Here, let me show you."
"Screener 411372! What's this shape!" Ermey snapped at a
slack-jawed student. (It looked like a butcher's cleaver to
"Uh, it's a laptop PC?"
"You featherbrained imbecile," an assistant instructor demanded,
"have you ever seen a laptop PC with a butcher cleaver's handle
After a pause, the screener shook his head.
"So what do you think it is, Screener 411372?" Ermey asked in a
voice full of quiet menace.
"Uh, a cigar humidor with one cigar loose?"
The assistant instructor grabbed Screener 411372 by the lower
lip and dragged him away. The screener got the last word in,
To pass the course, screeners had to pass a written exam and an
interview with a panel consisting of Ermey and instructors Paula
Abdul and Simon Cowell. Assistant instructors included Harry M.
Horwitz, Larry Feinberg, and Jerome "Curly" Horwitz.
"We have to maintain a high standard," Ermey said. Asked if it
was true that the passing percentage was only 25%, he said, "that's
the high standard! We have to pass everybody -- standards just
don't get any higher than that."