Took a flight recently and in my security line they were putting everyone through the scanner. I didn’t want to be scanned so I asked for a patdown instead. Interesting experience. I don’t recommend it except that I sort of do (keep reading). It’s no fun having some gruff fellow with a shaved head run his hands up your legs and under your waistband. My impression is that the screeners do not enjoy this work, and that their attitude is that if you are dumb enough to ask for a hand search they are going to take some satisfaction in giving you what you asked for, good and hard. Or maybe they just don’t like it when passengers make work for them. Much easier to run everyone through scanners.
Perhaps more travelers should ask for patdowns, to slow down the system and pressure Congress to junk it or at least eliminate its worst features.
A while ago I traveled to Israel. On the way back an American guy in the security line started taking off his shoes, and a screener told him to keep them on because this isn’t America (unspoken: and here we do things rationally). Why is it so institutionally and politically difficult for us to treat airport security (and other issues) rationally?