For the past 20 years, Drew Mandy—whose parents describe him as having "the mental capacity of a two-year-old"—has carried a plastic hammer toy around with him for "security" reasons. It's his thing. But recently TSA agents took his beloved hammer away from him, because it made tapping noises.
Mandy, 29, and his family were on their way to Disney World and going through security at the Detroit airport when they encountered the anti-hammer TSA agents, who pulled him aside for a pat-down. According to Dr. David Mandy, Drew's dad, Drew had trouble following some of the agents' instructions. When Dr. Mandy tried to tell the TSA agents that his son couldn't understand what they were asking him to do, an agent allegedly told him, "Please, sir, we know what we're doing."
Oh, but see actually they did not know what they were doing—especially when it came to the hammer:
"[A TSA agent] took the hammer and he tapped the wall. 'See, it's hard. It could be used as a weapon,'" [Dr.] Mandy explained. "So, Drew's also holding [a] ball, and I said, 'Well, how about the ball?' He (said), 'Oh, he can keep that."
Dr. Mandy was told he would need to have the toy shipped if he wanted to keep it, a process which caused them to almost miss their plane, so he pitched it.
"It just killed me to have to throw it away because he's been carrying this like for 20 years," Mandy said.
The really crazy thing about this situation is that Drew's mom had packed another, similar hammer in her backpack, and the agents let it pass.
Dr. Mandy wrote to TSA to express his frustration about the hammer incident, and got a quick, apologetic response. TSA is now reviewing its procedures regarding treatment of people with mental disabilities, and all the agents at the Detroit airport will be retrained as a result of the Drew Mandy incident. The TSA's response "made me feel that there is still hope, that there is still justice and that there's still somebody who listens to people's problems (in) the federal government," says Dr. Mandy. So there's your rare happy ending.