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Lessons From A ‘Tell Me More’ Road Trip

by Portia Robertson Migas
Nov 3, 2010

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I am the type of person who has a hard time with change.I recently painted my bedroom and, afterwards, had a really hard time getting used to it - because it is different. It didn't matter that it was much better than the hideous wallpaper that had been removed. My sisters tease me about hesitating to change and update things like my wardrobe or my hairdo.

Before I recently joined the talented folks on the Tell Me More staff, I had been working for the same company, in the same city, in the same building — for 24 years. I had several different jobs and I traveled all over the country and the world, but it was all with the same company. I started a few weeks after graduation, moved through a number of interesting and exciting positions that, for the most part, I enjoyed. I was intellectually challenged, comfortable and it was hard to even contemplate change.

But change is all around me. Michel Martin, producer Brakkton Booker and I haveleft our home in Studio 4B at NPR headquarters for the day. Michel is hosting Tell Me More from member station WDET, which is on the campus of Wayne State University in Detroit. We will be discussing the results and implications of yesterday's midterm elections with a number of guests, including Rochelle Riley who writes for the Detroit Free Press.

And, we're excited that two stars from the new ABC police drama "Detroit 1-8-7" — Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher Moltisanti in "The Sopranos,"and James McDaniel , who played Lt. Arthur Fancy on "NYPD Blue" — will be joining us at WDET's studios.

When Michel and I were on our way to catch the flight to Michigan, I encountered even more change. An agent waved a little chemical-seeking wand over my hand and, for reasons unbeknownst to me, it came back positive. Both my bags and I had been flagged for extra screening.

I had recently read or heard a brief story about some new security measures the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was instituting. While two TSA agents took my bags and went through everything with a fine-toothed comb, another agent took me into a glass-enclosed area for the newly instituted pat-down. I know the nice young lady working for TSA was only doing her job. I understand that we need stringent security measures because there are people out there who are working really hard to terrorize us and blow up our planes.

I also realize that I was headed to Detroit — the very same city the plane carrying the underwear bomber was headed to last Christmas Day when he tried to blow it out of the air. Still, it was hard to accept this different and totally invasive pat-down. I stood there in shock as the TSA agent touched me in private places, checking my undergarments - top and bottom, front and back - for dangerous explosives.

I let the agent know that if I hadn't heard about the recent changes, I would have thought she was a criminal and I would have reported her for molesting me. Really. The pat-down was that invasive. She let me know it's no bag of laughs for her to conduct these pat-downs several times a day. For the most part, both of us have grudgingly accepted this new reality as necessary.

After clearing the extra security hurdle, I was slightly agitated, but got on the flight to Detroit. I looked out of the window as the plane descended over Lake Erie and then as we coasted above the tree line while preparing to land. I noted that while many trees in Washington, D.C. still have some of their leaves and spectacular fall color, the colder weather in Michigan has left most trees here nearly bare. The seasons have changed. No surprise there. It's November. The midterm elections are over and when we woke up this morning, there was a changed political landscape as well. While the Democrats retained control of the U.S. Senate, Republicans now control the lower house of Congress. House Republican Leader John Boehner will be the next speaker of the House. I just hope politicians on both sides of the aisle —Democrats and Republicans — can approach their jobs like that TSA agent.

She didn't necessarily agree with or like these newly instituted pat-downs, but she got the job done.

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