Remembering our past, securing our future

Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Remembering our past, securing our future

On November 19, TSA will celebrate its 20th anniversary. To recognize this milestone, we asked TSA employees to share their memories from the past 20 years.

I remember 20 years ago; I was in the best shape of my life physically. I had two little kids, a great job as a hairstylist, and owned my studio. My workout friend encouraged me to join her in recording a video. I applied, was accepted, then scheduled to film a FIRM workout video, flying to South Carolina.  

It was 20 years ago — my son was four, daughter two — and were up early and being wild. The morning news was on the big, square, hand-me-down TV in the corner, while we were doing our daily routine of eating, playing, heading to daycare and preschool drop offs. I was going to hit the gym, spend the day in the salon, super excited about this upcoming big adventure to fly across the states, celebrating losing baby weight, college weight, teenager weight, being the best version of myself, finally. 

That was September 11, 2001. 

Fast forward to my daughter being the fastest freestyler in high school, helping earn herself a scholarship to the University of Northern Colorado. With two kids in college, I went back to work but not in a salon. 

I went to work for TSA.   

As comfortable as it may seem to touch people when I was a hairstylist for 30 years, it is NOT, and was one of the hardest things to overcome in training. I was removed from jury duty once, because the judge asked me, “Do you have experience touching people when they do not want to be touched?”  

I explained I worked for TSA, which got a big laugh out of the courtroom, and was immediately dismissed.  

I have earned two Red Team awards;  I am confident in my duty as a dual certified officer. Often at the checkpoint, when doing a sensitive area pat down, I get a comment from passengers, “I could never do this for a living. This is awful, and I am so sorry you have to touch people like this.”  

My reply is: 

“My daughter is a collegiate swimmer. She flies all over the United States. I take my job seriously, screen every passenger, just like she was going on that plane you are about to board.” It puts things into perspective quickly, respectfully. 

Rachel North

Transportation Security Officer

Portland International Airport