By Betsy Ross
I'm a 1K flyer, meaning I fly over 100,000 miles a year with United, and I consider myself fairly inured to the indignities of travel by now. But, going through my first Whole Body Back-Scatter X-ray at the Denver airport recently took frequent flying to a whole new level of creepiness.
The Homeland Security people obviously put a lot of thought into the implementationof this latest supposed "advance" in aircraft terror prevention.
Before the entrance to the X-ray chamber there was a little sign depicting fuzzy, colorless images of a stripped-down man and woman, which I suppose were meant to put us at ease by suggesting that what the examiners see is not the least bit personal or prurient.
If so, it didn't work.The depersonalized photos of the little nudes just reminded me of those grisly photos of concentration camp survivors, their bodies wasted by starvation, gaunt faces devoid of expression.
I could have refused, of course. But from what I've read, X-ray resisters risk penalties like extended, detailed grilling by Transportation Security Agency personnel and even police, plus a full-body pat-down. For all I know you could wind up being held for questioning and missing your flight, and I wanted to get home for the weekend.
As I entered the tall white chamber,with its automatic doors on front and back, a short, unobtrusive honey-hairedfemaleagent, clearly selected and trained for the task, approached me and gently showed me how to form a diamond with my fingers and raise my hands overhead.