Could this be in direct response to the unjustifiable treatment experienced by a 97-year old woman on July 11, 2011 at Los Angeles International Airport?
I doubt it. There was no “tender, loving care” bestowed upon a sweet, sensitive, and spunky woman. In fact, Ms. Mary was stripped of her cane, wheelchair, and clothes – but not her dignity.
Michael, a good friend in California called with information about what happened to his mother, Mary Gruning. When I learned the details, my blood boiled. Michael’s sister, Patricia, was traveling with their mother en route from Los Angeles to New York when an abuse of power and authority occurred. (A full recap of this outrageous, bureaucratic misstep from Patricia follows my blog.)
This could happen to your mother, grandmother, father, or grandfather. Everyone desires security, but this case has stretched beyond the absurd and Undiplomatic. Two pictures of Mary are included, one as she celebrates her 97th birthday. She’s an official party girl, as her birthday falls on New Year’s Day, January 1.
All Facebook and Twitter fans, please forward this information to anyone that can help – your congressmen, senators, media. In more traditional societies, the young revere their elders. This callous behavior must be confronted, acknowledged, and remedied. Send me your comments and suggestions. Let’s move to make January 1, 2012 a new year for TSA accountability and “tender loving care” for our Seniors. I know Mary will cheer for that!
(FULL RECAP FROM DAUGHTER PATRICIA GRUNING HIGGINS)
LAX Airport: July 11, 2011 American Airlines Flight #4 to JFK
As a TSA agent pushed my 97-year old mother, Mary Gruning, in her wheelchair through security at LAX. Alarms sounded, scaring both of us. The TSA man took charge, wheeling her to an adjacent end of the conveyor belt. There, another TSA agent passed a wand over Mary, producing more alarming sounds. The agent asked my mother whether she had put on any hand lotion or cream. We both said no. My mother asked whether she could put on her jacket and sneakers. A resounding “NO” was the alarming answer. A third TSA agent arrived.
We waited…it was now 11:40 and our American Airlines flight #4 to JFK was leaving in 35 minutes. Concerned about not making the flight, I asked two of the agents if they could get a supervisor to intervene. One agent turned to the other and said, “You know those supervisors, they just sit on their butts and take their time.” The supervisor arrived about 11:50 and wheeled my mother to a TSA designated area. It was now twenty-five minutes until departure time.
The supervisor and a fourth TSA agent whisked my mother into a room and locked the door. At noon, fifteen minutes until flight departure, I asked a fifth TSA agent, John R. whether he could call American Airlines and tell them we might be several minutes late. He said he couldn’t make the call, but if my mother wasn’t out of that room in three minutes, he was going to get her. A minute passed, the door opened, and my mother was wheeled out of the room – no explanation provided.
I wheeled Mary at breakneck speed, through the packed airport crowds, to our American Airlines boarding gate with only 10 minutes to spare before the plane left.
My mother recounted the experience. “When I was in that room – with brown walls and more like a closet or cell, I was made to totally undress, take off all my clothes, covered only with some kind of filmy cloth, and made to stand up. They removed my cane and wheelchair.”
She continued. “When I asked them why this was happening, I never got an answer. They just patted down my body. And, when I told them I was almost 98 and asked again why were they doing this to me, and got no response, I stood up, banged on the door, and asked them to let me out of there and called for you.”
I NEVER heard my mother, even though I was only a short distance outside the room.
Question: Why didn’t the TSA agents ask me, her daughter, to accompany her, a 97-year old woman, into the inspection room?
While my mother and I both appreciate the need for security measures, the indignity, of having a 97-year old woman endure being humiliated and violated while subjected to these ‘procedures’ all by herself in a locked room, is an abomination. Mary has been deeply affected by this incident resulting in sleep loss, depression and crying. These are the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and are unfamiliar to her.
Our intention is to not only get an explanation from the agents who caused this insensitive and reprehensible behavior, but to have TSA institute guidelines where anyone in a similar situation be permitted to have the person they are travelling with be permitted to remain with them at all times throughout any type of security procedure – most especially, in a locked room.
Thank you. Patricia Gruning Higgins
----- By, Susan Sacirbey
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