Dave Richards' Weekly Column in The Woonsocket Call

Dave Richards for May 19thÖÖÖÖ

--Iíve recently had to take a trip by airplane. In the past I have ranted on this subject, so today it is time for an update.

Iíve made it no secret that I have resented the way air travelers have been treated by the TSA. But I am here today to say that they are getting much better. The mere establishment of this organization has been hotly debated. Iím not going to do that again. Accepting that it does exist, it is understandable that any organizations first years of operation could be riddled with mistakes, miscalculations and a pile of unintended consequences. We were not spared these expected issues in the first years of the TSA. However, whatís really important is what happens next. The biggest concern I always had with the TSA, was that I believed that a government organization with total power over the traveling public would have no incentive to improve itself and we would be stuck with these mistakes, miscalculations and unintended consequences forever. I was wrong.

Over the most recent few years I have witnessed a TSA which is clearly focused upon being as helpful and pleasant as the circumstances will allow. I have heard a number of times announcements broadcast throughout the airport from TSA personnel that some traveler had left an iPad or a ring behind in the screening area and a sincere effort was being mounted to reunite the traveler with their property before they got on their aircraft.

I have seen repeatedly TSA workers being understanding of the way their work affects travelers passing by them for inspection and a real effort to add a caring human touch to the experience. A smile and a kind and caring word to the traveler does a lot to neutralize stress.

But the most important thing I have seen in the TSA as a traveler has been a real genius in how they do their job. Iím serious here, this is no back-handed compliment. The TSA pre-check is one of the most advanced forms of defense against the Ďbad guysí I could ever have imagined. And the fact that sometimes you are pre-checked and sometimes you are not is the most effective deterrent to mischief in the air which could have been devised, in my opinion.

For a short time in my younger years I worked in the security industry and we were taught that the worst thing any security organization can be is predictable. If the bad guy can rely on you doing something, anything, in a certain way or at a certain time, they can use that information to get by you. And here is where the TSA of today really shines. You see, nobody knows and nobody really has control over just how youíll be screened each time you fly. Sometimes itís the strip down and body scan, sometimes you donít even take off your shoes or empty your pockets. Sometimes your baggage is opened and searched, sometimes it seems as though they donít even look (but we know they really do look with that x-ray gear). You just donít know what to expect. And it is this very uncertainty that is the flying publicís best defense because bad guys cannot plan their evil deeds effectively if they donít know what the people in uniform are going to do and when theyíll do it. Good. And good work, TSA!

--The report card on the first ever Woonsocket Rotary Days celebrations is in and itís a keeper. This past weekend was the crescendo and big finish of the multi-day, multi-project ďfeel goodĒ celebration and the reports from all those in attendance is they want to see it come back next year. Well, Woonsocket Rotary Club President Mike Dubois told me that is exactly what they are planning to do, to make Rotary Days an annual springtime series of events designed to highlight what is good about our city. Good. We need it.

Good work and community spirit are things every community needs. We all agree on this point, Iím sure. However, some person or organization has to get the ball rolling. This time it was the Rotary Club of Woonsocket which saw the need, made the plan, engaged those who could help, and took the risk to give Woonsocket some of what it needs, good will. Thereís no telling how much good will was generated in this inaugural year of Rotary Days. Just imagine what we could do with two! Thank you, Rotary, for stepping up and doing what needed to be done and doing it well!

--That's what I think. What do you think? Comments to dave@onworldwide.com or mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332. Thanks for reading.


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