Security Matters

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What I Do Matters: Linda Severson

By: Salina Sanders

Linda Severson grew up on a farm in the small town of Waubay, South Dakota. Linda currently has three children, two of whom are twins. Her oldest is 32 and her twins are 30. Linda has worked in security her whole life, but she began working for airport security in November of 2002 and has currently been there for almost 17 years. Linda has been married to her husband Kevin for 6 years and is expecting her first grandchild any day now.

Before she began working for airport security, Linda worked security for a computer company. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Linda felt like her security background gave her the perfect opportunity to stand up and do something to help. She found an opening at the airport, and she knew she wanted to do her part to prevent anything like the events of 9/11 from ever happening again.

On a typical work day, Linda usually wakes up at around 1:15 a.m. and starts work at 3:45 a.m. First, she checks to see if she is going to be working the security checkpoint or the baggage check. At the checkpoint, she runs and monitors the X-ray machine, the body scanner, and the metal detector. She also checks boarding passes and IDs. Typically there will be a morning briefing before everyone gets to work at the security checkpoint, and after that, the staff rotates their positions every half hour.

What I do matters because…I remember the terrorist attacks on 9/11 like it was yesterday. I remember how it impacted so many people and how it shocked all of America. Even though it can seem like the public doesn’t remember the threat, we have never forgotten. Sometimes it feels like people don’t like us because of the inconvenience, or they think we’re just there to take away their water, but it goes way beyond that. People don’t see the items that we do keep off the planes, like loaded guns. Everybody has loved ones that fly, and everyone wants them to get to their destination safely.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? I think the most rewarding part for me is when passengers occasionally approach me out of the blue and thank me for what I’m doing. It’s really nice that there are people who recognize the work we’re doing to keep them safe, and it’s great to hear it every once in a while.

What are you most proud of at work? The thing that I’m most proud of is how my coworkers and I manage to balance the security portion of our job with providing good customer service. I feel that it’s important to treat all the passengers like people. We may not see it, but our passengers are flying for many different reasons. Someone could be traveling on business, going on vacation, or traveling to visit a sick relative. It’s important that we keep that in mind when we’re interacting with passengers. I think my coworkers and I do that very well.

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