Wednesday, March 14, 2007

How TSA is keeping America safe ... and other stories!

There is a reason why some animals hibernate. The weather should not affect my mood, but there is some chemical reaction to the sun and warm breezes that exhilarates me. Currently we are on Spring Break and yesterday I went for a drive along a stream. The sun was shining, the sky clear blue, the air nonchalant. I stopped at a bank to survey the land and to breathe. There was a bevy of cows and a flock of birds (homage to my English teachers in Zimbabwe) who ignored me as I almost burst into tears in gratitude for being alive (cry baby).

Last week I was at the SIGCSE conference in sunny Kentucky. The conference focused on Computer Science education; I participated in panels and sessions focusing on computer security, programming discrete mathematics and other applications. I left the conference feeling absolutely rejuvenated and excited about being a Computer Scientist.

Minus the option of purchasing a horse or carrying KFC, I bought some coffee beans in a whiskey bottle (Kentucky is known for their bourbon), along with their famous sauce and bottled cherries. I check in, take off my boots, jacket, laptop, go through that "air-emitting device" that magically checks the body for who knows what. I exit to retrieve my belongings, when a burly grey haired TSA agent stops me and says with grave importance, “ma’am we have a problem.”

I don’t respond because I can’t imagine what the problem could be, other than the book of global warming in my bag.

“You cannot carry liquid; federal regulations”

Still I say nothing, because I remain clueless as to what he is implying.

“You cannot take whiskey onto the flight”, TSA agent repeats.

“Ok,” I offer trying not to appear as uninterested as I actually feel.

TSA agent takes out the whiskey bottle with the coffee beans. It is wrapped in tissue to prevent it from breaking.

“It’s coffee,” I explain, trying to undo the tissue from the bottle to show him

“Ma’am, I know what this is and you cannot take this on the flight. It is illegal,” he pushes my hand away from the bottle.

“It’s coffee,” I am still calm.

“I know exactly what it is and it is illegal because it is liquid.”

“Alright, throw it away, but before you do I want clarification as to how you categorize that as liquid.” I reach out to undo the tissue again.

“Ma’am,” he starts warningly brushing my hands away again.

“I want clarification,” now I am ready to take it on.

He undoes the tissue, sees the "solid" coffee beans and exclaims, “well I’ll be darned.”

Long story short, he still made me check in the bottle of sauce and cherries. So I had to be escorted out, check in a little bag and then go through the whole security process again. When I walked through to the gates to board my flight, I saw bottles of the sauce at the concession stands ready for passengers to purchase and take onto the flight. To make my day, when I landed in Philadelphia, I smelt my little bag before I saw it since the bottle of cherries had smashed into pieces.

Hello Fearless Bloggers! ...How I have missed my blog! See you tomorrow.

Nazli