Friday, October 14, 2011

Being a Human Test Case

As I write this, I am sitting in the waiting area at San Francisco International Airport. I'm waiting for my flight to be ready to board to go to Madison, Wisconsin, where I will be participating in the Association for Software Testings board meeting, and officially get sworn in as one of the Board of Directors and take on my role as the organizations Treasurer.

That's all well and good, but that's not the point of my post this afternoon. Instead, I wanted to share my experience of being a human test case. For sake of context for those who read this weeks or months later, I have a broken leg with a titanium plate helping hold it together. Thus I knew I'd be a piece of entertainment for the security detail today.

I arrived early enough so that I would have time to get through the line. Turns out that if you are gimpy like me, there's a special line to go through. Much faster, but that may also be because they know I'm a guaranteed fail. I offloaded all my stuff, emptied my pockets took of my shoe but left on my boot. Net result, no big surprise, I lit up the metal detector and went over to the special area to receive an advanced screening. While I was there, I started taking of my boot. The security detail looked at me like i was nuts. I was actually asked why I was taking it of, and I said, well, because I can, and I have a titanium plate in my leg, and a simple wave of a wand will tell you that. I was being helpful... maybe too helpful (LOL!). In any event, I was screened much more thoroughly and then when everything was shown to be in order, they let me retrieve my things and go on my way.

Now here's the interesting thing... that portable metal detector they could have waved over my leg to verify the metal detector went off because of the titanium in my leg? They never checked. Part of me was walking around with a bit of smug superiority, thinking "silly security people, a wave of a wand over my leg would have shown what caused the alarm to go off", but as I was thinking that, I realized that, really, I may not even be thinking on the same wavelength as they are. People with medical conditions probably come through all of the time (hip replacements, knee replacements) with considerably more metal in their bodies than I have, so they might look at the gimpy man as being a Trojan Horse. Identify the obvious issue (the titanium in the leg) but somehow ignore something else (like a hypothetical switchblade or a pack of C4 inside of the boot). Note, I have no idea what their objectives were, and I didn't stop to ask (they were plenty busy), but it was amusing to contemplate.

As I'm often fond of saying, testing is all around us, and if your not careful... you just might miss it. Actually, I think that's a bastardization of something Ferris Bueller said, but still, it's apropos ;). And with that, I hope you have a Happy rest of the Friday afternoon and evening. I have a plane to catch. Here's hoping we talk soon :).

Updated: Landed in Denver with no issues, but really, did the connecting flight have to be on the total other side of the airport? Maybe it's karma for writing this earlier (LOL!).

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