Do: A Pat-Down

Do you know the name of the capsule-like airport security machines where you stand with your legs apart, lift your hands over your head, and get scanned? You might not know the name, but you know exactly what I'm referencing, and they're called Millimeter Wave Scanners. In David Agus's book A Short Guide to a Long Life, he makes the case that these machines are too new to be deemed safe, and advises requesting a pat-down instead. I was intrigued by his thoughts on the mysterious machines. While flying home from summer vacation, I planned to test his advice, but my hot and tired family groaned, "Mom....!!! Don't!!" Fortunately, the tiny gate we departed from didn't even have a Millimeter Wave Scanner.

Today I had my first opportunity to test Agus's advice. There was signage at the security checkpoint that welcomes you to ask for a pat-down, and my request was warmly received. They warned me it might take awhile to locate a female officer who could perform my pat-down. I waited and waited, while glaring at my possessions 10 yards off, unattended at the end of the ramp. After expressing my concern, they decided to let one of the female officers present leave her post and perform my pat-down.

She warned me she would have to touch all parts of my body. This wasn't an exaggeration. To ease the awkwardness, I told her I was performing a test of sorts: how easy is it to get a pat-down instead of going through the scanner? I shared with her Agus's opinion on the unknown effect of the machines, and she lit up: she told me she absolutely agrees and doesn't go through them herself! I asked her about children, and was relieved to hear that children are never sent through the scanners; they pass through a harmless metal detector (pictured on the left in the photo below).

Getting the pat-down certainly took more time, but I wasn't in a rush today and was happy to spend the time to protect my health. What do you think about these scanners?

Backscatter X-ray, Millimeter Wave Scanner, Airport Security