(The reference to Alice Munro is to a post-opening epigraph from a Munro story in which a female character is titillated by observing her man's competence at the stove. "What we deserve" is sex.)I feel a kind of competitive pressure to keep the line moving. I’m not happy to see more than about six inches of distance between my luggage and the bags in front of me on the belt. Every delay in pulling out my laptop or my liquids, every last minute bit of change I have to throw haphazard into the bin, every stutterstep as I realize it’s a whole-body scanner, not a metal detector, so belt and watch have to come off too –- all detracts from the performance.* * *In part we do it to keep our place in the hierarchy of guys. But in the end, what we’re really hoping for is an Alice Munro moment — that our easy concentration and economical movements will set up in someone “a procession of sparks and chills,” followed a few pages later by, well, what we deserve for all that demonstrated competence.
Baker's insight is not the source of his own motivation. Rather he claims to now understand why so many other people (men, at least) are frustrated with the TSA. Their stated frustrations carry "a distinct whiff of testosterone," Baker says, and this is because they find their inability to display competence in the security line to be emasculating. So they act out and go into "full high-school rebellion mode." Baker has a series of suggestions to alleviate this frustration.
Although I strongly disagree with Baker's take on the TSA, and probably even his take on the nature of reality, I enjoyed the post because it was an open look into an alien mind. It even gave me my own insight, which is this: I see now that every policy "national security conservatives" promote and everything they do—and I mean everything: the wars, the crackdowns, the mass incarcerations, etc—is part of a lifelong and sadly misguided effort to get laid.