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The New Face of the TSA

TSA Oath

You probably read about the TSA’s new uniforms in the news yesterday. If you didn’t, you will probably notice them the next time you fly. Previously, the TSA had white cotton shirts which looked rather informal and, after a few years of wear, they all became a bit stained. What’s more, TSA screeners have been tasked with rifling through your luggage and your belongings, but without any sort of symbol that says “I have the right to dig through your underwear.”

Well, although you can debate the appropriateness of letting strangers paw through your neverminds, I think we can all agree that the new TSA uniforms are nothing but snazzy! The shirts are a rich blue color that I affectionately called “Corporate Blue.” It’s a tone-neutral a shade that looks good on almost everyone, regardless of skin tone or hair color (unlike white, which looks bad on 75% of the population). There’s a tie– butterfly for the ladies, straight for the men– which is optional in the short-sleeved version of the shirts.

The TSA’s uniform code is stringent, like all good uniforms. A uniform demonstrates respect for the worker and delineates the person from the office– something that is all too necessary when you might be taking away a 6-pack of butterfly knives from a forgetful hunter. The socks are limited to blue or black, and can have no visible decoration below the cuff. Pantlegs are carefully measured and must break at a specific spot on the foot. For a number of TSA employees who served in the armed forces, the uniform is refreshing.

TSA BadgeBut the uniform now has one more detail that is new, and important. It’s the symbol of office, and a symbol of the trust the government has placed in the TSA employees. It’s the badge! When these federal employees have been digging through your underthings, they did so with as much visible authority as the guy who drives the shuttle bus from the hotel to the airport. The badge changes all that, and the TSA’s new badges give an aura of respectability to the most visible change in domestic security resulting from 9/11.

I complain a lot about the state of air travel in the US today, but I also have a lot of respect (and even love, in one particular case!) for the TSA employees. It’s like any government job, of course– there’s good apples and some bad. But in general, I try to believe most of them are people like my dad, who are doing a difficult, public-facing job to try and keep America a little safer.

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