While going through airport security, I observed a TSA agent wasn’t too excited about the work he was doing. While I get negative vibes from workers here and there, it’s unusual for them to tell me point-blank that they are unhappy.
My flight on this particular day was taking me from San Antonio to Denver. I approached the TSA agent who was tasked with verifying my privilege to engage in air travel. When possible, I like to exchange pleasantries with people I meet while traveling.
Surprisingly, it was a slow morning in Terminal B. I suppose the morning rush had gone through because there was no one in line behind me.
Me: Hello, Sir!
TSA Agent: Hello.
Me: It’s not too busy today. That’s nice that we can move quickly through security. I know Terminal A has more traffic.
TSA Agent: I wouldn’t like that. Too much work for me!
[He takes my driver’s license and boarding pass.]
Me: I don’t fly out of Terminal A all that much because most of my flights are on United.
TSA Agent: I don’t fly at all. I come here only to do my job, and not to take my chances that one of those birds will fall out of the sky. With my luck, that’s exactly what will happen.
Me: I hope it doesn’t happen today.
TSA Agent: You just never know. When it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go!
[Hoping to get my items confirmed and back to me quickly, I try to end the conversation.]
Me: Ok. I hope your day goes well!
TSA Agent: Not possible. You know … I hate this job, and I’m doing terrible. I’ve never really liked working here, or working anywhere for that matter. I have just two more years before I can retire. I can hardly wait!
Me: I guess you can hope for the day to go by fast. Before long, 5 o’clock will be here, and you can go home.
TSA Agent: I get out at 4 o’clock, so that’s even better. Of course, I got here at 7 a.m. That’s way too early for me. I’m sure someone in the management group is pissed off with me. I can’t figure it out!
[He finally verified that I was not on a terrorist list, and confirmed that I was travel-worthy.]
Me: Okay, Sir. See you again next time.
TSA Agent: I hope not! If all goes well, I will quit or be fired soon!
Several other TSA agents who overheard the conversation seemed embarrassed. They tried to ignore the conversation, but it was too quiet in the building.
I’m unsure if this experience is an isolated situation. The TSA agent took a different approach: he actually shared with me how he felt about his work. I wonder if many people feel the same way, but they are careful with what they say.
When you are no longer happy with your work, it’s time to find something else. This agent told me that he was ready to retire. Unfortunately, he spent most of his life doing something he didn’t like.