Federal Security Etiquette

Having to go through a metal detector about 2,000 times a year because of my work in Washington, D.C., I’ve formed some thoughts on etiquette that I’d like to share.

  • It’s 7 or 8 in the morning. Get off the phone, quit being loud and go through the damn machine.
  • If you have a belt buckle the size of a stapler, you’re going to set it off. Similarly, ladies, if you have four pounds of jewelry or an inordinate amount of piercings, please come prepared. I’d hope that we’re all smart enough people to realize what does or does not set off a magnometer. Some of us just want to get to work and the officer wanding you for setting it off three successive times probably doesn’t find you attractive, so spare us, and keep that stuff in your purse. Your office has a bathroom, put on all of your accessories there.
  • Everything goes through the machine except for coffee. Yes. Everything. That includes your cell phone, iPod, blackberry, keys — you name it. Keep it all in your bag so you’re not struggling to put things in the circular dog food bowl or your bag. This takes precious time and makes me want to yell at you for being an asshole.
  • Interns should have their own security screening point with visitors.
  • Don’t wear shoes that set off the magnometer. Yes, ladies with shoes reinforced by what could be a shank, and yes, gentlemen with steel toed boots — your shoes will set that thing off without a doubt. You should know this by now. Put those in your bag and wear tennis shoes.
  • All of these points of etiquette become more enforceable the closer it is until 9AM. If I am late for work because you’re a numbnuts or a ditz, I will harbor ill will towards you.
  • If it’s not your bag, don’t bring it in. It should go without saying. Fake “gag” grenades your boss’s wife might have given you without really thinking about it, or taking your boss’s “bag” — it’s all on you.  Do you remember when we were kids, the lady at the airport would harass you about your bag? Did you pack it? Yes. Keep it with you the whole time? Yes. Did anyone ask you to carry anything on the plane for you? Bingo! If somebody asks you to bring something through security for them — you shouldn’t do it. Trust me.
  • Signs apply to you. Staff only before 10 am means exactly what it says. Please show ID doesn’t mean keep it in the bowels of your oversized purse and take 2 minutes to find it. Keep that out and ready. Having to show ID is a requirement of the world in which we live.

Please feel free to add more in the comments.

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