All the flack the TSA takes probably leaves some agents constantly resisting the urge to dick around with passengers out of spite, or at least to distract themselves from the daily tidal waves of traveler disdain. Combine that with a license to probe orifices on your body you didn't know existed and the authority to detain would-be flyers for offenses as minor as having a bad attitude, and you've got a recipe for some truly horrifying shenanigans.
So, one bomb appraisal officer working at Philadelphia International Airport decided to prank the fear of God (read: federal prison) into some unsuspecting victims passing through a security checkpoint. On at least two separate occasions, the officer, whose name is being withheld, decided it would be a great idea to convince air commuters that they'd been caught carrying cocaine. According to official documents obtained by the Smoking Gun, the apparently duty-free bomb appraiser left his post at will with a vial of creatine powder, the stuff of muscleheads, and passed it off as the stuff of crackheads, then approached flyers asking if it was theirs.
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"No, sorry. But if you find any heroin, I lost that."
The first individual the officer approached apparently had a good laugh about it. But like a tragic hero in love with his own hubris, the agent approached two more people, one of whom was 22-year-old Rebecca Solomon. For some reason Solomon found little humor in the prospect of discovering firsthand that orange really is the new black and began to cry. The officer, failing to take Solomon's emotional distress as his cue to apologize and beg for the sake of his job, dismissively insisted that the prank was funny.
Unfortunately for the explosives expert, his joke bombed with airport officials, too, guaranteeing him a one-way ticket to Pink Slip City. It kind of seems like he should have seen that coming, since he worked for an agency that arrests travelers for merely joking about illegal activities.
Do as we say, not as we ... just do what we say.
But incredibly, that's only the second most insane airport prank we've heard about ...
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On a Sunday night in October 2013, operations at Los Angeles International Airport were suspended in the tense uncertainty caused by an explosion in an employee restroom. The next night, all airport activities were once more brought to a standstill by explosive devices, this time positioned near terminals and, according to some, possibly near airplanes. People seated for takeoff must have been scared shitless by news of the apparent attack -- the people seated in the bathroom even more so.
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"Uhhhhh, this is your captain, we're going back to the gate for some uhhhhhh cockpit seat maintenance issues."
This booming mayhem wasn't the work of some diabolical terrorist cackling in the darkness, but rather the harebrained antics of a jackass with a few bottles and enough dry ice to make them go boom in a very loud if not particularly destructive way (no, we're not going to tell you how to make a dry ice bomb -- you'll have to go look it up yourself).
Who would do something so irresponsibly buffoonish in the post-9/11 era? Baggage handler Dicarlo Bennett, that's who. Good old Dicarlo decided it would be a good idea to snag some dry ice that was being used to refrigerate food on a plane and use it to simulate a terrorist act. "Why?" you ask? Well, why not?
"I tried writing 'BOMB' on the plane bathroom toilet paper, but nobody ever saw it."
According to law enforcement officials, Bennett was driven by a nagging "desire to construct and experience a device exploding," an urge that apparently couldn't be satisfied after just one night of widespread panic. Of course, he probably wasn't expecting what was essentially a bored middle schooler's last resort for mischievous fun to land him in jail with a $1 million bond and a set of federal charges to boot. We'd suggest that maybe the guy should have had better supervision, but it turns out his supervisor may have been in on the whole thing.
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Those of us who take the fateful march down Security Shame Lane for the sake of going airborne can take solace in the fact that all travelers share this awful experience like some secret Kubrickian cult (one premised on degrading submission to a perverse overseer, but severely lacking in awesome sex parties). After all, permission to bypass the gatekeepers of the sky is reserved for popes, presidents, and people with deadly frisking allergies -- those rare cases where easing up on security would seem totally reasonable. Plus Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. Wait, what?
In the TSA's defense, searching Kim and Kanye's bag would be like opening the Ark of the Covenant.
As it turns out, airport employees skirt mandatory safety precautions for reasons ranging from "some frivolous bullshit" to "some nepotistic bullshit." In the case of Kim-ye, a star-struck airport employee abused his security clearance in order to facilitate their journey to the plane without pesky security checkpoints, ultimately delaying the whole flight by 50 minutes so that Kardashian and West could be removed from the plane and properly screened. In other cases, government officials and airline executives have also been caught granting friends and family members access to nonpublic areas and helping them skip all those pesky pat downs and luggage X-rays.
How often does this happen? Well, of the 140 confirmed security breaches at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport over a two-year period, about 76 percent of them were security badge violations. In addition to being a slap to the face of all the law-abiding passengers, that's a massive security risk. Take, for example, Damien Young, who had his roommate, a customer service agent at Philadelphia International Airport, perform a Jackie Brown-esque bag switch to get a gun past security checkpoints so he could board the plane with it.
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"If you tell the stewardess you're an air marshal, you get an extra bag of peanuts!"
Other airport workers have been caught smuggling drugs, money, and even a freaking machine gun onto commercial flights on behalf of dangerous criminals, rendering moot every impromptu breast exam the TSA has performed on travelers in the name of security. And all it took was a flash of a badge -- because apparently the people who could most easily jeopardize lives are also the least monitored.
A.C. Grimes is a raving Cracked fiend who enjoys writing. Feel free to check out his other musings and compositions on the Web.
There's always room for Cracked in your diet. Check out 15 Postcards from After The Invention of Time Travel and 19 Bad Ideas for History Based Video Games.
Related Reading: If you make it past security but you're still stuck at the airport, read Robert Brockeway's guide to surviving while stranded at your terminal. Some airport officials go out of their way to be dicks, like the guys who demanded a fat passenger buy two seats but didn't put them together. In Slovakia, they test their security actual explosives. Because the only place balls belong are on the wall.