I Learned A Lot Hanging Out With TSA

The Puget Sound Stepped UP!

January 31, 2019

by Gregr

Categories: 

The TSA agents at Sea-Tac International Airport worked without pay from before Christmas until days before February. What the fluff? That's mortgages and rent unpaid, utilities in threat of being shut off, and some kids going to school without food.

We called our pals at Zeek's Pizza - the West Seattle location was nearest - and asked if they'd be down to supply some hot pizzas for the gang at Sea-Tac who spent more than a month working for free. They responded with these:

Sea-Tac has six security gates full of TSA officers. 24 hours a day there's at least one security gate open. That's hundreds of employees all toughing this out together. A manager, Vic, led us back to a small staging room near gate B-9. Inside, we found a food pantry built on the donations of the community. We thought bringing some pizzas would help, and it did, but it was the equivalent to a drop in a bucket compared to the spread on offer. Tables were covered in canned foods, boxed foods, gift cards, fruit, and water.

I asked who was a big donor or someone cool that showed up in a tough time to help out. They unanimously told me it was the passengers - people traveling through Sea-Tac International that filled this food pantry. One agent told me that in total people had donated close to $20,000 worth of cards and goods to help the several hundred employees out. I had to fight off welling eyes from the sense of pride I felt for our community. 

Airlines were also making donations they told me. After all, these are the people who are stopping catastrophe from taking place in the skies over the Earth and these airlines get it.

Asking these officers what they still needed, one woman quickly blurted out "drinks!" I hadn't thought about how we're dropping off a dozen pizzas but didn't bring anything to wash it all down. Rude!

We visited on a Wednesday and the agents were far more lighthearted than I expected. They had been paid the day before - sadly, it wasn't a full paycheck. They told me about half a check came in and the rest - including overtime hours - was expected in the coming week(s). I couldn't help but notice how no one was acting agitated or carrying a chip on their shoulder. They said they have good managers and people looking out for them during the shutdown made it easier to bear.

One thing is for certain, if I had to be on my feet all day, doing face to face interaction with travelers and I wasn't being paid, I would have been (more) insufferable. Tip of the cap to everyone doing a job that seemingly no one respects until you need something of them. Rather, we tend to characterize the TSA as the worst part of the airport experience. Here they were, hungry and unpaid. They still were sweet humans enjoying pizza like the rest of us.

TL;DR

These workers still haven't been fully paid and won't be for a few weeks. They can still use your donations and asked specifically for drinks (though I'm sure pizza is fine, too). Passengers have done the most, but companies are doing great work to help out, too.

Thanks

Thanks to Josh (below) and the gang at Zeek's Pizza for being awesome and hooking up those pies. We have lots of great local pizza options, if you get the chance to buy a pizza from Zeek's, you'll be supporting people who supported our community.