In June 2019, Neal Strassner was traveling through the Greater Rochester International Airport when an airport security employee handed him an inexplicable and unkind note.
“I got handed something; I really didn’t look at the thing,” Strassner said, according to KWTX. “I kept going.”
“She called back to me a few times, asked me if I was going to read the note or open it or something like that. I do and look at it and look at her, kind of shrug my shoulders and she laughs.”
“You going to open the note?” the security employee asked, and he did. Inside, Strassner found a brief, bizarre message: “You ugly!!!”
The message, hastily scrawled on a piece of scrap cardboard, puzzled Strassner, but he chose to keep going rather than let it demoralize him.
Despite being such a good sport about the rude encounter, he did follow up and obtained a copy of the footage, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request that took over a month to grant. He said that he was concerned that if this behavior continued, it might hit someone who’s already in a dark place and really cause him pain.
“You never really know where somebody is in their day or their head,” Strassner said. “The more you think about it, the more you realize it’s easier to smile than to do this.”
The video also helped Strassner process the incident, as he was able to see he wasn’t the only target of the nasty notes.
“The end of the video I requested,” he said, “she literally just takes a pen out of her pocket and starts writing another one, so I know I wasn’t the only guy that got them.”
UPDATE: The airport security employee has been fired, according to TSA. Here’s the video of the employee passing the mean note, laughing about it, and reaching for more paper to begin writing again. #ROC pic.twitter.com/wXLcD8aLwz
— News 8 – WROC-TV (@News_8) August 15, 2019
TSA Officials also stated that though the author of the rude message wasn’t hired directly by either the Rochester airport or TSA, she was a contract employee.
She ended up getting a rather unpleasant message herself, as her contract was terminated after TSA looked into the incident.
“TSA holds contractors to the highest ethical standards and has zero tolerance for this type of behavior,” the administration said, according to WROC.
“This instance, which involved a contract employee, was investigated immediately upon receiving the complaint by the traveler. The employee has since been terminated by the contractor.”
“You Ugly” – Not the words a Rochester airline passenger expected to read when a security agent slips him a note at Greater Rochester International Airport. Now, according to TSA “You Fired” – see the surveillance video obtained by Neal Strassner. @SPECNewsROC pic.twitter.com/SGerBFmk35
— Wendy Wright (@WendyWrightTV) August 15, 2019
“I’m really curious what the other notes said,” Strassner said after noticing the prolific note-maker’s handiwork. “I travel a lot and the airport normally is spectacular. This was a totally weird event that they [VMD Corp.] seemed to handle properly.”
“I travel a lot and just want to make sure they get some credit to their organization and don’t let one lady trash their whole reputation.”
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