A Danger In Profiling

Is Profiling Really Right?

I am worried! I’ll tell you why. The Transportation Security Agency (TSA), the people looking out for us at the airports and train stations are going to be profiling passengers. They are on the lookout for people that stand out in the crowd—people that move differently and may appear to be nervous, stutter, or seem to have something to hide.

Parkinson’s patients may fidget, tremor, or shake to and fro, at any time for any unknown reason. Stuttering, stammering, or broken speech can be part of the illness—does TSA know this? Who is training TSA about the thousands if not millions of people who travel with neurological disorders? If isn’t Parkinson’s, it could be one of the many other illnesses that calls attention to the patient. Stress and anxiety strike even the healthiest of the population at certain times of his or her lives—how does a TSA agent, someone unfamiliar and void of neurological conditions make the judgment to dismiss one person acting strangely over another to a traveler acting strangely due to a medical condition?

About 4 years ago, my wife and I were traveling to go to Florida. On this one occasion, I would take a walking stick that hikers use and can be adjusted to work as a monopod for stabilizing a camera. I decided it wouldn’t be a problem since the stick was retractable and very portable.

Security went smoothly, until I passed through the metal detector. I was fine, but the young woman scanning my carry-on and now, the stick, eyed it like she had never seen a walking stick before. Her perplexed expression confused my wife and me but we hoped that wasn’t going to last—it did. She called over a tall, pushy, young, man in his late 20’s to ask me what this was and to tell me how he was going to proceed to dismantle it in front of me. I immediately snapped back,

“If you break it, you buy it! It’s a simple spring-loaded walking stick! I have Parkinson’s disease and on occasion I find it helpful! Last week, the tension spring on the stick got stuck and it took me an hour to get it right and if you disassemble it, this thing will never work right!”

 To my amazement, the kid eyed me, eyed the stick, and handed it back to me. My outburst had paid off and we were free to be on our way.

Here is an example of our culture making life more difficult rather than easier. I understand the need for security on our planes, trains, ships, and highways, but I also think that those inspecting the cargo and passengers should have knowledge about what and who they are inspecting—don’t you?

About Karl Robb

Karl Robb has had Parkinson’s disease (PD) for over thirty years. With symptoms since he was seventeen years old, Karl was diagnosed at the age of twenty-three. Now fifty-one, he is a Parkinson’s disease advocate, an entrepreneur, an inventor, an author of two books (A Soft Voice in a Noisy World: A Guide to Dealing and Healing with Parkinson’s Disease and Dealing and Healing with Parkinson’s Disease and Other Health Conditions: A Workbook for Body, Mind, and Spirit) with his wife and care partner, Angela Robb. He has blogged for ten years on his website, ASoftVoice.com. He is a Community Team Member to ParkinsonsDisease.net and is a contributor to PatientsLikeMe.com. His blog, ASoftVoice.com, has been recognized four years in a row by Healthline.com as one of The Best Parkinson’s Blogs of 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015! Healthline.com also listed the book A Soft Voice in a Noisy World in their list of Best Parkinson’s Disease Books of 2017! FeedSpot.com has recognized ASoftVoice.com for 2018 and 2017 as a Top 50 Parkinson’s Disease blog. Karl was a blogger for the 2016 World Parkinson Congress in Portland, Oregon. He is a frequent speaker on Parkinson’s disease issues as well as an experienced advocate for Parkinson’s issues throughout the United States. He is also an advisor and consultant on Parkinson’s disease. Karl is a board member of both the Parkinson Voice Project and Parkinson Social Network based in Virginia. He was an active board member (6 years) and an advocate (18 years) with the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN). In his free time, he is a photographer, constant writer, longtime magician, and a practicing Reiki Jin Kei Do master. Karl received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been featured by The New York Post, BBC Radio, CBS News, National Public Broadcasting (NPR), in The New Republic magazine and NHK World Television, as well as several Washington, D.C., television stations. You may reach Karl via email at asoftvoice@gmail.com, on Facebook, or contact him via Twitter @asoftvoicepd. I’m available for speaking engagements to share my experience living with Parkinson’s disease. Please contact me at asoftvoice@gmail.com if you are interested in having me speak to your group, conference/symposium, or would like me to write an article for your newsletter or blog. I am not a medical professional and this information is my personal view. I am just sharing my medical journey with you, the reader. I encourage you to seek all avenues that can benefit your condition.

Posted on April 28, 2010, in Education & Support, Health, Media & Trends, Parkinson's Disease, Philosophy, Politics, support groups and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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