Boyden Brandon joined TSA as a frontline screener in 2005. He was only 70 then. This week (Saturday, February 27), Brandon turns a young 86 years old and is still going strong as a screening officer at New Jersey’s Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) with no thought of retiring.
“I enjoy working,” said Brandon, better known as BT. “I enjoy the people mostly. I get a chance to interact, and the work is interesting.”
BT screens passengers and checked baggage at ACY five hours a day, five days a week. He worked as a radiology technician before initially retiring in 1997. But he got bored and needed something to do, so he joined TSA eight years later.
“I cleaned enough pools, played enough golf, cut enough grass and didn’t have anything to do,” BT recalled. “I just said, ‘Okay, I’ll find a part-time job.’”
During his long professional career, he was used to looking at X-rays, and that’s what piqued his interest in TSA.
“I believe if you stop work, you start to deteriorate physically and mentally,” BT said.
He stresses working is important but is not his top priority.
“What’s important to me is family, church, golf and then work,” BT proclaimed. “Golf keeps me in shape. That’s my exercise.”
And he’s proud that he can shoot his age on the golf course.
BT enjoys the people he works with at ACY as well as the passengers. “Passengers come in and ask for me,” he said. “People remember you when you treat them well; they remember you when you treat them badly. I try to treat everybody well. I treat people the way I want to be treated. You reap what you sow. If you treat people well, you’re going to get respect. I make sure to take the first step in letting people know how I feel about them, how I respect them, how I want them to respect me.”
In 2017, TSA awarded VMD Systems Integrators, Inc. a private contract to take over screening operations at ACY, and BT stayed through the transition, assuming the role of coach and mentor.
“We had a lot of inexperienced people,” he said. “That’s why you have mentors. I have young people who I coach and work with and get them prepared. Experience is your best teacher. I don’t care how talented you are, if you don’t have the experience, you can’t do the job as well. I’ve been around for 86 years, so I’m experienced.”
VMD Project Manager Aimee Oseguera is amazed by BT’s outlook on life, his strength and his drive.
“Throughout this pandemic, BT hasn’t missed a beat,” said Oseguera. “His attendance record is excellent, he is focused on the mission, and he is as sharp as a tack. What an extraordinary man! We could all learn a few life lessons from him. BT maintains a positive attitude and serves as a coach and mentor for everyone who has the opportunity to work with him, including me. He is a true security professional.”
So, how long does BT plan on serving our country as a screening officer?
“I really don’t know,” he responded. “I’m not looking to retire anytime soon. My daughter gets after me. She says, ‘Dad, you need to stop work.’ Then I say to her, ‘What am I going to do?’ She has no answer. How many days can I play golf, how much grass do I need to cut?”
To celebrate his 86th birthday, BT expects a quiet time with his wife who he said will cook him a good meal, or the couple will go out to dinner. “We’ll just hang out.”