TB Andy and Amanda Reynolds: An Alarming Lack of Alarm

So embarrassing was the episode of a border guard allowing TB Andy to cross into the United States from Canada on his multinational infectious disease tour that you might think Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff would send a directive to all HSS employees to wake up and pay attention to detail. You’d be wrong if you thought such a thing.

Here’s a short story about my husband flying from Sacramento, Calif., to Washington, D.C., just two short days ago.

My husband John went to the airport kiosk Tuesday to print out his boarding pass and luggage tickets, but the boarding pass got stuck in the machine. Fortunately, he was able to make eye contact with an airline attendant, who offered assistance. The attendant, being a technical whiz, stuck his hand up the machine, dislodged the wadded-up boarding pass and handed it to John, who then proceeded to go through security checkpoint. 

The uniformed security official, whose job it is to verify travelers' IDs before they proceed through the metal detector, looked at John, looked at his driver's license, looked at the boarding pass, and having confirmed that all three matched, put a big blue mark on the boarding pass to signify that the man standing before him, my husband, was the man on the driver's license, was the name on the boarding pass and, therefore, was authorized to proceed forward.

After putting his shoes, belt, cell phone, laptop, carrying case and jacket on the conveyor belt to be screened, John handed his boarding pass to a second uniformed security official for verification.

When John got to the boarding gate, he checked to see which zone he was in for the purposes of boarding the plane. It was at this point that he read the boarding pass himself, which one airline attendant and two security officials had already looked at. The name on the boarding pass? Amanda Reynolds.

I know we live in a politically correct, gender-neutral society, but I assure you that my husband, with his masculine features and hairy arms, in no way looks like an Amanda Reynolds. Furthermore, nowhere on his driver's license — his official piece of identification for boarding an airplane — does it say Amanda Reynolds.

The headline in today’s Christian Science Monitor reads "Homeland Security Chief: U.S. growing complacent on terrorism."

I understand citizens growing complacent when they hear for the thousandth time that we’re on Orange Alert, but it sure would be nice if Chertoff’s employees were a bit more alert.