This past summer my parents, grandmother, and I went overseas to visit Paris and London as a sort of graduation present to me. The entire trip had been a breeze, we had 0 encounters with rude locals, which was a pleasant surprise considering common stereotypes, and even less of an issue with the Parisian airport security (they all spoke several languages and seemed over the moon to have a chance to welcome Americans to Europe). Basically, the whole experience was a dream, even though towards the end of the trip we all began to feel homesick.
Having finally landed in ATL after an 8 hour flight, we all went through customs and then back through a TSA checkpoint before we could enter the main part of the airport. Keep in mind that this is the international sector of the airport, and many of the people who had just landed with us had never been to the US before now. Having been on precheck when i left the country, i didn’t have to remove my shoes, so I was unsure whether i should remove them or not upon returning. To the TSA worker nearest to me I said “Excuse me, sorry, do I have to take off my shoes through here?” to which she rolled her eyes, shifted her attention away from me and yelled to the line “Everybody must take off their shoes and put them in a bin!”. Startled after two weeks of employees smiling and offering their help in any way I sort of mumbled a “Oh, thank you.” and took off my shoes, then walked through the metal detector. Seconds after the last of my family members had passed through the metal detector, the TSA worker walked back over to where she had been standing initially, near two of her co-workers, and loudly mocked me, saying “Pffft ‘Do I haveeeeee to take my shoesssss off'” in a whiny voice to which the other workers laughed and glanced over at us.
I could hardly believe this grown woman was mocking me for asking a simple question, and I was actually convinced I had somehow misheard her until my grandmother walked up and said “Is she making fun of you?”, as bewildered as I was.
Still stunned but more caring about just getting home, we mentioned it to the supervisor and left. I’m extremely glad that she was rude to me and not to one of the international travelers behind me, welcome to America, right? I’m horrified that people like this woman are given the responsibility to not only handle all domestic affairs, but be the welcome wagon to people visiting America, what a horrendous introduction to a country that has so much to offer!