Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Miracle Weapon in the War on Terror Discovered!

I've mentioned before that I spend a lot of time in airports and am a big fan of security theater, but today I had a revelation that was on par with what Neo must have felt like when he woke up in that slime-filled pod. I read yesterday with no small amount of joy that the War on Liquid was being relaxed and that, unlike the day prior, certain liquids were no longer dangerous explosives but instead had been declared innocuous and were super duper ok to bring on aircraft once again. I was relieved that I'd be able to bring saline solution and toothpaste on board without checking my bags with the attendant 30-60 minute baggage delay on landing or resulting to smuggling 1/2 oz bottles through security in my pockets or discretely in my carry-ons.

Little did I know that there was a caveat to this major victory: these liquids are only safe for travel if they're contained within a clear plastic 1-quart zip-loc baggie. I discovered this the hard way, I brought my shaving creme too. Now, I had seen the announcements yesterday, including the caveat of putting things in a clear plastic 1-quart zip-loc baggie, but I didn't understand that the container around the liquids was the thing that was actually ensuring the safety of the aircraft and all those aboard.

When I arrived at the check point there was a TSA person there declaring loudly for everyone to hear that the key to salvation was in fact the clear plastic 1-quart zip-log baggie and that anything inside was ok to travel and anything that wasn't in the bag was contraband and hazardous to the national security of the United States. At this point, I knew that there was going to be trouble because I had brought a 2oz travel can of shaving creme but I DIDN'T HAVE A CLEAR PLASTIC 1-QUART ZIP-LOC BAGGIE WITH ME! Now, not wanting my 2/3oz bottle of saline solution or travel toothpaste I was smuggling in my bag to get confiscated, I came up with a plan.

When I got I up to the head of the line I took out my shaving creme and said "I'm sorry, I don't have a clear plastic 1-quart zip-loc baggie with me to contain this deadly shaving creme, do you guys have any?" I may have left out the "deadly shaving creme" part. Anyway, they said "No, that can't go". There were no trash cans handy so I asked what I should do with it and they said to put it in one of the small trays and send it through the X-ray. For a second I thought that sanity had prevailed and that they were going to apply critical thought to the situation, but I was relieved to see that mindless obedience to the rules won the day. Upon emerging from the machine, one of the TSA people grabbed the tray and said "who's shaving creme is this?". I indicated it was mine and he shook his head and said "that can't go" and promptly chucked it in the garbage. As I was putting my shoes back on and packing away my laptop, he wandered by and I thought to ask him a question.

Me: "Just so I'm clear, if I put that shaving creme in a clear plastic 1-quart zip-loc baggie that would have been fine?"

TSA guy: "Uh, yeah."

I made eye contact with him, shaking my head and he looked back at me for a couple seconds before he cracked a sheepish-grin.

I don't know about you but I'm selling my stock in Halliburton and LockheedMartin and buying S.C Johnson as soon as this plane lands.

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At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My brother just flew into town the other day and he was not allowed to take his contact cleaning solution and toothpaste because it was in a one GALLON size ziploc baggie rather than a QUART size ziploc baggie. You would think the thicker explosive proof material of the gallon size bags would make them better than the quart.

I wonder if my store brand baggies are acceptable or if they must be Ziploc brand.

At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Mark Mc Mahon said...


I find that the rules are different where you go, when I flew from US to Geneva - my lip moisturizer was fine (I even asked), but on the way back the Swiss authorities said it was NOT OK - but they were nice to supply the quart size baggie (though of course it was metric - I guess that wasn't OK - but I got away with it!).

Have you heard Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" - you entry sounds a bit like that :-)

Thanks for the smile!

At 8:13 PM, Blogger BurgandySkies said...

Any shop owner in an airport that does not send someone out to Costco or similar and stock up on boxes of ziplocks and set up them on the shelf for 99 cents a bag is an idiot.

At 9:45 AM, Blogger Mitch Guittar said...

Clearly you are missing the point! No one would suggest YOU would use your shaving cream to commit a terrorist act.

My fear is that by carrying "unprotected" shaving cream, you would unwittingly assist an actual terrorist. Simply put, an over pressurized shaving cream can could explode causing a blinding shower of foam (don't tell me you haven't seen this!). While crew and passengers are temporarily blinded, a crafty terrorist (wearing foam protecting goggles - he would have them being crafty) could mix his various 1 1/2 ounce chemicals and wreak havoc on humanity. All of which could have prevented by simply placing the item in a quart size ziploc bag.

I am just thankful that our government has the foresight to protect us from these obvious dangers.

At 8:13 PM, Blogger Joel Esler said...

My wife says: "Clearly too many TSA agents have been watching the Ziploc commercial where they play the spaghetti sauce in the Ziploc bag and turn it upside down. Ziploc bags are not that sturdy. They might hold spaghetti sauce, but not a bomb."

Thanks for writing that, I read it to my wife, and we both were cracking up over the phone.

At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the rule is only very selectively enforced. Recently on my way out of Las Vegas, I admitted to having forgotten to place my otherwise allowed items in the ziplock baggie. Instead they were in a transparent makeup bag (smaller than a quart) and thought I might be okay since I had no problem leaving Toronto a few days before. This resulted in a thorough item by item search through my purse by an officer. He passed up st least 10 supposedly dangerous items until he came upon the only expensive thing there, a bottle of Christian Dior makeup. This he decided to confiscate. He did offer to allow me to go check it in my luggage if I wished - not an option since too much time had been wasted by deliberately slow moving and rude staff on duty - by then I had only ten minutes to make my flight despite being lined up more than an hour before. The most astonishing thing is that along with other items he let me keep - a few similar to the confiscated makeup, all officially not allowed outside the baggie -, he *left* a lighter in my purse which I had forgotten I had!
I guess there must be some dangerous ingredient in Christian Dior makeup - or maybe this guy is just a thief with good opportunity. Whatever, it sure doesn't seem like we are very safe with our security being trusted to people like this.

At 2:26 PM, Blogger JimmytheGeek said...

Reasonably coherent explanation of the deal here:



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