And now, another chapter in what I call my “I’m 54 Years Old and Must Surely Look Like a Drug Mule for All the Times that Airport Security has Pulled Me Aside.”
You may have read my posts regarding Chilean Fruit Dogs: Entering the country carrying processed, DRIED prunes. (For...you know: change-of-diet-travel-non-reactions.) Charge: $87 USD, plus, said dietary fiber was confiscated. So painful that the Chilean Fruit Dogs were SO BEAUTIFUL...
And my TSA pull-over this spring simply because I was carrying three very small eucalyptus trees in my bag: Three Globs of Dirt
This weekend that Spouse o’ Mine and I winged it west to witness (SAINTS BE PRAISED!!) our College Boy Graham graduating from Western Washington University, in Bellingham, WA. Yahoo, Hooray, he’s earned a BS in Computer Science, and that will hold him in good stead and as of now it seems that we have no more, NO MORE college tuition to pay in the foreseeable future. It’s like we’re getting a raise.
But let’s backtrack a smidge. Winging it: Flying on an airline: that connotes the act of TSA security and all the fun that it entails. Mostly, taking one’s shoes off (EW. Walking barefoot where thousands of other barefoot soles have trod, leaving their EWWwwww skin cells behind…blech – let me tell you, that is a bad thought in my mind. A phobia? No. A bad thought in my mind.)
Happily, the TSA lady in charge of me opted to allow me to keep my shoes on. I was thrilled. And I told her so. “You just made my day.” She glowered back at me. I set my two bags on the screening belt and walked through to the other side. That’s Spouse o’ Mine was already through his TSA business and was already busy putting his belt back on. I collected one bag, and waited. And waited some more.
And then I saw it.
I know this song and dance: someone had culled my smallish-suitcase off the conveyor belt and had set it aside. I waited. No one showed up to explain things to me. I waited some more, and finally tapped a TSA lady on the arm. “My suitcase is sitting over there, ” I pointed. She walked over and took it and placed it on a screen to look at its contents, only very briefly, and then carried it over to a table and unzipped it.
Oh, I do know this song and dance.
“Ma’am, is there any sharp object in here that I should be aware of?”
Now, I am one of those people who wrack their brains over questions like this: I mentally start from the very first item I packed, and mentally inventory all there is: is anything sharp? Anything at all? What could puncture this lady and get me into more trouble than those Chilean Fruit Dogs did?
By the time I finally answered “No”, the TSA lady was already poking and prodding her gloved had through the layers of my suitcase. I am a DANDY packer. Very systematic, and everything is where it is in my bags because there is a tried and true reason. So when she called out to me in a very loud voice (so that all the other passengers should learn from my transgression), “Ma’am, you are not allowed to carry peanut butter on board the aircraft”, I stared blankly and began my slow-yet-very-thorough mental inventory through my bag once again.
Peanut butter? What the heck? I don’t even eat peanut butter. What is she going on about?
That Spouse o’ Mine, done belting up and holding his bags, stood half-frowning and gape-mouthed clear across the room. Sadly, he has seen this song and dance of mine too many times.
And she reached deep into my suitcase and pulled out a jar of…
Gumbo. Gumbo Soup. Some I brought for the College Boy. He has spent the last three weeks of his college career (yes, finals and all), with mono. So what better thing for his mother to bring to him than some comforting gumbo soup.
The TSA lady proceeded to confiscate it.
I poked my head over her shoulder and said loudly, so all the other passengers could see that I was not guilty of peanut butter smuggling, “Oh! That’s NOT peanut butter! THAT’S GUMBO! I can carry on gumbo, can’t I?!!!” And I was so animated that she called across the room to her supervisor and asked, irritably, “Can she take GUMBO on the flight?!” I seconded, “It’s for my son!” And he came over with a smile just for me, and said, “I am from the South, and I know what gumbo means."
"You can carry it on.”
Ha! One point for the mother with the jar of gumbo soup.