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'You Ugly': TSA Contractor Canned for Passing 'Terrible' Note to Traveler

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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.

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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.

Would you have been as calm as this traveler if you'd received a note this rude?

“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.”

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.

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“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.”

“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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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking