My name is LaShawndra Michaels and this is my story.
It was just a job to me; something that I could do to help out my husband and our family and make sure my boys would have a chance to go to college. My husband is a clerk in an office building and don’t get paid much for what he do. I didn’t go to college, didn’t even finish high school until I’d already had my first baby. I got a job working with the TSA because it paid alright and wasn’t too far away from where I lived at the time. I have three kids, all growin’ boys, and I’d do anything for ‘em.
I know y’all don’t want to hear about me and my family, though. You want to hear about the thirteenth day of January, 2012. Well, since the reason I’m telling you this story is so you can understand, so the world can finally understand, why what happened happened, I guess I’ll get right to it.
I had patted down a lot of people that day, just like every other day. There had been a lot of uproar, as I’m sure you know, all you TSA haters, that us inspectors wasn’t doin’ our jobs the right way. People thought we was inspectin’ people who didn’t need inspectin’ and touchin’ people in ways we shouldn’t a been touchin’ ‘em. We all worried about it, but at the end of the day we all needed the job because we all had families.
Anyways, I still remember when they came up my line and opted out of the body scanner. Dorothy and Madeline Whitaker, a mother and daughter most people might think belonged in some kind of mother-daughter magazine. The mother, Dorothy, she had on some nice clothes, don’t exactly remember what, and beautiful straight, blonde hair. Madeline, as you know, wore that awful red coat that made her look so round and heavy.
The two approached me and right away Mrs. Whitaker pulled out her smartphone and started recording.
"And now we’ll see how the maniacs of the TSA grope and molest my innocent little girl in front of this crowd of strangers," she said. "The internet is going to love this!"
I saw her recording me and I got scared. I knew the airport security camera behind me was also recording everything and that if I didn’t do my job they way I was supposed to I could get fired. I thought about my growin’ boys and them having to see their mother get called a groper and a molester on the internet and thought about what people would say.
"Calm down, ma’am," I told Mrs. Whitaker as I knelt down in front of her daughter. The girl looked at me with a kind of scared look on her face, like her mommy was takin’ her somewhere she didn’t want to go. Anyway, I’m not afraid to admit it and I never have been: I didn’t give the girl a proper pat-down like I should’ve. I looked into her pretty little blue eyes and lightly felt around her waist and legs. I really thought she was just a sweet little girl a bit on the chubby side. I then gave her mother the full pat-down for trying to embarrass me in front of everyone. She didn’t make a peep about it.
I know that I deserved to lose my job. I know that the shame I carry now is worse than what it might’ve been if I’d done things by the book. I was afraid of how I might look to the world and it cost me more than I ever thought it would.
I want to say that I’m sorry. To everyone. I’m sorry to my family for being an embarrassment. I’m sorry to the TSA for not doing my job like I should’ve done. And most of all, I’m sorry to the victims and their families for failing to uncover the explosives that Dorothy hid beneath her daughter’s red coat.
I’m not quite sure how to end this; with a “the end,” maybe?