After removing my shoes (the one part of airport security theatre I absolutely hate) and placing my belongings in those gray trays, I walked up to the TSA agent, who asked me multiple times if I had anything in my pockets-had I forgotten my wallet? Did I have my wrist watch on? Etc.
After the person in front of me had completed his scan, the TSA agent directed me to step forward. I asked if I could opt out. He responded with, "sure", and in his walkie-talkie, said, "I have a male-opt out." He then looked at me and said, "One second..."
He got a response back in his walkie talkie, and then directed me to walk through the scanner, pointing out that the scanner was not on.
On the other side, I was greeted by an older gentleman, who also pointed out the scanner was off. He asked if I would prefer being patted down in a private location. I declined. He then explained everything he would do: From the pat down, to using the back of his hand for the more "private" areas. I said, "okay...", honestly expecting the worst at this point.
He proceeded with the pat down at this point. He did my upper body first (arms, chest, back) and then went to my backside and said, "I'll now be using the back of my hand to pat your more private area" (my butt, basically...) I responded, "okay", and then with a brush, he ran his hand down the backside of my leg.
I'll be honest: My immediate thought was, "That's it? I've been grabbed worse in a club/bar..."
Of course, I still hadn't received the crotch check...
He then explained he would be patting down my leg. "Here goes...", I thought.
With the back of his hands, he patted down my upper thighs (no where near the crotch), and then wrapped his hands around my legs and went "up" until "contact" was made, but immediately moved down, patting the rest of my leg. He then moved on to the other.
Again, I've seen and experienced far worse contact made in a club/bar.
After that, he had to get his gloves scanned (similar to the band they use for laptops), and after everything came clear, he thanked me for cooperating. I thanked him in response, and went on my way.
While I realize it's entirely dependent on the TSA agent you're dealing with, as well as personal/emotional experience, my own experience wasn't nearly as bad as I had prepared myself for.
When I pointed this out to a friend of mine (via text), he responded, "Yeah, but you're not a hot chick..."
He probably has a point :)
A few observations:
Two of the four or five passengers who opted-in to get scanned, had to be patted down after - a similar experience I had (I went through the scanner once before, a mistake on my part, and had to be patted down after...)
The TSA agent made a comment during the pat down that surprised me: He wasn't a fan of the scanners himself. He said (paraphrasing here), "I've been reading about the radiation from these machines. You think passengers have it bad? I have to stand in front of this thing all day!"
Edit: Shoot, this is a lot longer than I had anticipated.
A tl;dr: I opted-out of the scanner out of my own curiosity. The airport I flew out of employed TSA agents who made the experience not nearly as bad as I had anticipated... Of course, YMMV.
I encourage anyone that opts out to plant this fear in the TSA agents head. "I'm a little concerned about the radiation myself but I can't imagine what it's like for you to stand near this machine all day. It must be worrying".
Getting the TSA agents on our side certainly can't hurt.
You know, I never thought about that. Considering how x-ray technicians stand behind lead guards and aren't scanning people rapid-fire all day, I wonder what the dosage the TSA folks are getting.
Everyone is also assuming that the TSA is properly configuring and maintaining this equipment, and that it is not malfunctioning and giving overdoses.
Do you have a link for that?
No data, no lawsuit.
Ben: Brian, are you touching my ass?
Ben: I was afraid of that.
First, what is the back of the hand thing all about? Is it less sensitive? Is it somehow less demeaning? It doesn't make sense to me.
Second, if he "made contact" and then immediately retreated...what did he make contact with? Was it clearly your junk? Or could it have been anything? How is it at all effective to do the pat down if all they do is retreat when they feel a little resistance. That could be anything.
And one more thing for good measure...
It's not the pleasantness or not of the pat down that is central to this issue. It's the effectiveness of it, the invasiveness of it, etc. Sure, your guy was nice...that doesn't have any impact on the policy being good or bad at all (not to say that is what you implied).
Edit: iPod typos
The guy in San Diego who refused the patdown a couple days ago now has the TSA claiming he was only going to get the old one:
"Aguilar says that Tyner was facing nothing more than the traditional pat-down that TSA has used for some time, and not a more aggressive body search in effect since late October."
If this is true then patdownees are not yet experiencing the real thing in some locations.
The thing I keep in mind is while I might not have a problem with this kind of pat-down I doubt many women are going to be ok with it.
The pat-down itself isn't even the real problem here or even the potential to abuse it (which is bad enough); almost certainly if you are an attractive women this is at the minimum going to be an embarrassing scene. I told my gf about this and she was shocked; she happens to be a very attractive asian women who normally draws a lot of unnecessary attention just out shopping/doing whatever.
So does she choose a private pat-down and who knows what kind of risks that brings? Or does she do it publicly so everyone can watch her getting groped? Sure as a guy I think no big deal, but for women this really is a big deal.
Anyway, what a mess and worst of all it fixes nothing.
This was after the most recent initial flurry of bad publicity, so perhaps word came down to skip the yelling.
A friend told me he flew into San Antonio yesterday and not only had his junk touched but it was twisted to boot. He said he didn't even get offered dinner first and he was afraid he'd get arrested if he'd punched the guy in the nose but was really just too freaked out to do anything.
This is what the government wants; sheeple that will let them even mess with your private parts without response.