I was a TSA Instructor Part 3… Actual Work

Read part 1 and 2 first.  Recap: So I spent one week training in Denver.  Then 5 weeks at home doing nothing and getting paid. Then I spend a week at luxurious Las Vegas Resort on the government’s dollar and did about 3 hours of training that week. Maybe an hour of that was useful. I spend a few weeks more at home and then on a Friday Morning, get an email. I am being deployed to an Airport tomorrow. No problem. I was getting bored staying home. The next day I am on a plane to the West Coast.  We are instructed to report to a meeting on Sunday morning at 8am in the Hotel.  Turns out I know several people who are there from the week in Vegas. I bonded with a ex-US Custom’s officer in Vegas. We had hung out there. He was here as well.  We wait for 20 minutes and then a blond perky thirty something shows up and I immediately know this was an ex cheerleader.  It was like she was trying to rally the high school crowd for a pep rally.  Her attempt to infuse us with enthusiasm did not succeed. She and another guy were our team leaders. We would each manage a team of brand new TSA staffers who just got out of training 2 days ago.

This is how it would work.  Each of us would get a different airline screening area.  The new Potential TSA employees would report to each of us on there first day. They would work for me. Each team would have 12-15 people. This would be the first time, these newbies would be scanning real luggage that would be going on planes.  I would teach and coach my team, until everyone on the team got 45 hours of supervised on the job training.  The new TSA people would get time off.  I would not. I would work the airport open to close for 1.5 weeks until everyone got their 45 hours. Then I would test each person. If they passed, they would officially become part of TSA. If they didn’t pass the test, then they would get some remedial training, then I would re-test them. If they didn’t pass then, they would never become TSA agents.

Because I felt personally responsible for the luggage that these people were screening, I would watch everyone like a hawk and personally supervise everything. If I went on a luggage break, my friend would cover for me and I would cover for him.

Some people were really good. These were people with military or other government service. Some people were not that good. And I am not just talking about the students.  Some of the instructors were tremendously horrible as well.
These are some of the things I saw or did not see that week:

Our Team Leaders. It turns on the blond cheerleader started an affair with the other leader and they doing each on the hotel most of the 1.5 weeks we were in this city.  I never saw them in the airport. The two married supervisors spent their 1.5 weeks in the hotel. The OJT instructors at the airport got together and managed outselves.

I saw a 400 pound female instructor, sexually harassing her trainee’s for sexual favors.

I saw several instructors drunk during the day and the night, and several all the time.

Because 18 hour days, I saw instructors sleeping while they should have been supervising their trainees.

I saw trainees choose not to inspect luggage, because they were hungry and wanted to go to lunch.

I saw hookups ( both parties actually consenting) in every option. Instructor-Student, Instructor/Instructor, Passenger -Student, Passenger Passenger in the baggage screening rooms.

In passenger’s luggage I saw guns, and drugs. Back in 2002, passengers had to drop their luggage off at the screening stations and then wait for us to clear them.  (We were not allowed to open bags without the passenger or a Policeman there). So if something did not look right, then the passenger had to open the bag. Can’t find the passenger, then we had to get a cop to do it. The law changed in Jan 1 2003 and then TSA could fondle your luggage and belongings, and person, any time they wanted to.

Gun: Some special forces types (hopefully ours)  checked some luggage with the special tag designed for checked weapons. On the exray/cat scan. I saw multiple machine guns. T They had the necessary documentation so I waved it through.

Drugs: we found drugs multiple times. We called Police. Smugglers ran and were caught.

I saw other things in luggage that I still can’t erase from my mind.


I saw a famous person. Willem Dafoe. The original Movie Green Goblin and the original Mr Clark from the Jack Ryan movies checked his bags. No goblin devices or guns. He was allowed through.

After 1.5 weeks We all tested our people. We then signed off on the trainee’s that passed and then for no apparent reason, we stayed there for 3 more days doing nothing but group site seeing before we were sent home.

I was a TSA Instructor Part 2: Vegas Baby


TSA Vegas Training

After 6 weeks of staying home and getting paid. I got an email that said, I was being sent to Las Vegas for more training.  Here’s a hint, if you want your students to actually learn something, never hold the training in Las Vegas. We were staying in a hotel outside of downtown Las Vegas about 20 miles away.  I guess they put us there, because there would be no distraction.  No distraction except for the huge Casino that was in the hotel. Plus the golf courses. We met our training leader for the first day and he said we would be trained on new scanning machines that were being installed in the Las Vegas Airport. Except they were not ready yet.  So We should meeting each morning at 8am and he would tell us if any training was going to go on that day.  We met every morning for 4 days. Everymorning he said not yet.  So basically we were having a free vacation in a Nevada Resort and were being paid $55 a day for our meals, whether we spending that or not. I lost money in the casino. That’s what I do. When I am in a Casino and I put money into a Soda machine, nothing comes out, never mind a Slot Machine.


original treasure island pirate battle

On the 5th day, we said we would have training tomorrow morning at 3am in the Las Vegas Airport.  The machines were working, but they were being used by actual screeners except for 3am to 6am.  Most of us drove to downtown Vegas and killed time until 3am. Saw the original Pirate Battle in front of Treasure Island (much better then the sexy version there now). Took the monorail. Lost money at a bunch of casinos. and Went to 3 different Las Vegas Buffets for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.  At 3am. They took our ID pictures.  And we all looked horrible and drunk.  I was just tired, Many others were tired and drunk.  It was the worst ID picture I ever had. A few weeks later, we got our ID’s. These ID’s could be used to get into any airport in the country.  When I left the job, they never asked for it back. I found it a few years later underneath the seat in a car I was selling.  Whoops. newark-tsajpg-2a760db5403ae3ae Anyway, we went to the baggage screening machines and we got a 30 minute lecture and we each used the machine for 10 minutes and then we went back to the hotel.  2 days later, without any other training happening, we got sent home.  So I got 1 week in a Vegas resort. Got paid my weekly pay and got $55 per diem. I worked approximately 2 hours that week.  Government work is fine if you can get it.

I was a TSA Instructor in 2002

TSA Screens Passengers At Denver International Airport

TSA Gate Screener

Now let me explain my credentials.  I have spent the last 16 years teaching computer Security.  I worked for several companies that had the word “Security” as part of the company name.

In 2001 a few weeks after 9-11, I was laid off. I went on unemployment . A Year later, I still had no job and my unemployment checks were about to run out.  I saw small ad in a newspaper and applied. I got a call back immediately with in 2 hours. They set up an interview for the next day. I had a 45 minute phone interview and they hired me on the spot. They sent me a one way Ticket to Denver for two weeks of training.  I was to be, a On the Job (OTJ) instructor  for a new government organization, called the TSA. I was a temporary full time employee for a contractor who was a contractor for a contractor who was a contractor for Boeing Corporation who had the contract to train the TSA Baggage Screeners.  I would teach TSA staff who would examine all the baggage. At the time, a different organization had the contract for gate screeners.  You were either gate screen or baggage screener, not both).


TSA Bag Screening Machine

I was given One week of training. Both classroom and training in the Denver airport. Class was interesting, because we (the new OTJ instructors) were not allowed to write in our training books or take them back to the hotel) We were given sample test at several times by our instructor. These sample tests were actually the final instructor exam. At the end of the week we took the test and all passed.(We took the same test 3 times before in the week as sample tests). Then we went to the airport and I had to find a bag using the screening machines that had explosive residue placed on it.  I passed. So then I was sent home.

Where I would get paid to wait to see if I was going to be deployed.  I got full pay for doing nothing. On Friday Morning I would get a email and possibly a travel ticket to go to a city if I was being deployed.

I waited home for six weeks and nothing happened..and I got paid. And played with my new Blackberry and my T-mobile Smartphone. Both which were supposed to be only used for work.  I played a lot of Jazz Ball. The only game on the blackberry back then.

Oh my pay level was $60K. Plus $55 a day per diem when on the road.