On the one hand, I feel like a lot of stories about the incompetence of airline security agencies are unfair. Like any type of line of work, the negative opinions of people are always broadcast more loudly than the positive ones.
I recently traveled overseas with my family and yes, JFK's management of arriving passengers through customs was an absolute disaster and one of the most disorganized things I've ever experienced. The only reason I was able to get out of the airport was because they took pity on me for traveling with young children, but there have been times when agents were amazing, accommodating, and thorough with their work.
But it's hard to argue that airport security officers don't mess up royally a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Like Paul-Blart-in-the-first-half-of-the-movie a lot.
Like these Roman airport officers who got spooked by a "suspicious-looking" package and halted all flights and kept travelers at bay while they sussed out the situation.
Apparently, the appropriate response to dealing with a bag that's potentially full of explosives is to blow it up. I'm assuming they have some type of ginormous bathtub à la Lethal Weapon 2 that protects people from the blast radius to put over the bag.
After the smoke cleared, literally, and the wreckage sifted through, the airport officers discovered that they just exploded some luggage that was filled with coconuts.
Now, there's a lot we could talk about regarding this particular coconut disaster. First: why was someone packing a suitcase full of coconuts in the first place? Were they trying to start their own coconut water business and smuggling some prime produce from a magical coconut island?
Second: while some of the coconuts were charred and destroyed in the explosion, there is also one brown coconut that's been left perfectly intact. I'm serious, look at it.
Magical indestructible coconuts aside, the exploding coconut suitcase debacle was filled with some other choice moments that were all thankfully captured by Ned Donovan, the man responsible for recording this hilarity. It's a very "Italian" response to this entire mess.
For commuters who've had the pleasure of travelling through Rome's airport in the past, they weren't really surprised by the way the bomb-that-turned-out-to-be-a-coconut situation panned out.
Some people took the threat a little more seriously than others and because of that cautionary behavior, they missed an up-close eyewitness account of the disappointing ordeal.
And of course, people were more than ready, willing, and able to joke about the entire situation. Some of the wisecracks brought up a good point: Why are we blowing up bombs in the first place?
This isn't the first time airport security agencies like the TSA were involved in some embarrassing situations. This report from the Chicago Tribune revealed that even if the coconuts had been bombs, there's a good chance they wouldn't have been caught in the first place.
How? Well, after random security tests, the TSA failed to accurately find 95 percent of all potential weapons or explosives that were being smuggled onto an airplane. Ninety. Five. Per. Cent.
Oh and remember when I mentioned up top that they spilled a football player's mother's ashes all over their luggage? Well yeah, that was awful.
The TSA specifically has a significant number of agents that were caught stealing from passengers, sometimes right in front of their faces. iPads, jewelry, and large amounts of cash were found to regularly be taken from passengers. The zero-tolerance policy of theft from the agency seems to have done little to stop agents from taking items they find as they rattle through your bags.
I mean, only a disgruntled employee would risk their job for a few quick cash grabs here and there, right? But why would an employee become disgruntled if they worked for an amazing employer like the TSA that treats its workers with the utmost respect and — oh wait, hold up, that's not what working at the TSA is like at all.
There's an over 20 percent staff attrition rate at the TSA and a lot of that is due to some horrible findings that were uncovered by a three-year long investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that blasted the organization for its "toxic leadership culture, misconduct, mismanagement, whistleblower retaliation and obstruction."
Not exactly the kind of keywords and phrases you want in a pleasant font on the company's human resources website.
It turns out that a lot of the problems at the TSA stem from the work culture created by upper management. For example, there was one dude executive who sexually harassed employees and made racist remarks for seven years before finally being fired. Oh, and it gets worse.
The committee was forced to subpoena the documents in 2017. However, many were still held back, and those that were turned over were heavily redacted with little-to-no justification. DHS and TSA continue to refuse to provide the full scope of unredacted documents, the report said.
The report also detailed multiple instances of TSA senior leadership conducting themselves inappropriately. One executive pursued a relationship with a subordinate, then admitted to purposely misleading investigators. Though OPR recommended dismissal, he agreed to a settlement including a 14-day suspension and demotion, but no loss of pay.
Another executive was convicted of driving while intoxicated, and attempted to claim falsely to police that she wasn’t operating the vehicle, but a member of TSA’s Aviation Security Advisory Committee was. Again, OPR recommended dismissal, but the executive settled for a 14-day suspension.
A third executive got away with sexually harassing employees, and making racially offensive remarks for seven years before finally being dismissed.
Yeah, on second thought, airport security in Italy blowing up some coconuts doesn't seem so bad when compared to some of these TSA scandals, wow.