Travelproof Snack Administration

Filed under:It's My Life,Jerks,Not Cool — posted by Anwyn on March 6, 2008 @ 7:31 pm

As you may have noticed I haven’t quite settled back into a blogging routine since coming home from my trip. A whirlwind of things to catch up on, a new treadmill to walk on (it feels like cheating, but at least I’m walking every day), etc. etc.

Anne wants to know: Did my snack stash for son and self to eat on the planes pass TSA inspection? Yes, they did, but not until after a conversation that went something like the following. Up front I will stipulate that I brought at least some of this on myself by trying to sneak a sealed bottled water through in my backpack. Naturally, as the bag came off the belt, the kid manning the inspection point (he must have been all of nineteen years old) said he was going to inspect it. He pulled out the water bottle, I feigned ignorance and an apologetic manner, all looked to be well … then a chick who had manned the X-ray monitor when the backpack went through nosed her way behind him and said, “There’s some other stuff you need to check out in there, too.”

Damn it. Now I was actually kind of puzzled–what else could be a problem in there?

Mr. Nineteen began pulling out the plastic bags I use to compartmentalize stuff inside my backpack. He dropped one on the belt–bang–and I looked up quickly. It was the bag containing the Bean’s Leapster. “Easy!” I protested. “That’s electronics.”

He wasn’t apologetic. My blood pressure rose.

Then he started pulling out the snacks–individual portions of sealed pudding, applesauce, and diced pears–and I felt the dread. My son is a grazer who eats more or less when he announces he’s hungry, and I don’t feel comfortable on the 2000-plus-mile airline trips we regularly take without a pack full of little snacks we can mix and match when he chooses. We typically have some dry stuff like goldfish and cashews and cookies, but I rely heavily on those little packs of pears and applesauce–and have never had a single problem taking them through security before. On several trips, in multiple airports, nobody has ever so much as looked in the bag.

Mr. Nineteen: “There’s some liquid in here.”

Me, instantly angry: “That’s not liquid, that’s food.”

Mr. Nineteen, with the pedantry that characterizes the petty powermonger everywhere: “Applesauce counts as a liquid.”

Me, gaping in disbelief: …

My mind immediately jumps ahead to the ounces limit. I’ve never had to deal with it before–I simply don’t take liquid in carryons, aside from when I’m feeling criminal and thirsty and try to get the water through. I thought the limit was four ounces, so I stared at him belligerently.

Me: “That’s less than four ounces–” [reaching for the applesauce to check its amount on the label.]

Mr. Nineteen, jerking the applesauce out of my reach: “PLEASE don’t touch the items in the inspection area.”

Blood pressure soaring. Me, decidedly snapping now: “It’s MY STUFF. THIS IS RIDICULOUS. It’s under four ounces.”

Mr. Nineteen, smugly: “It’s three-point-eight.”

Me: …

Mr. Nineteen: “The limit is three-point-four.”

I’m screwed now and I know it. That doesn’t halt the belligerence. Now I just want him to be done, quickly, and get his disgusting mitts off MY STUFF.

Me: “A little consistency would be nice. They didn’t stop me for this stuff on the way out. There’s liquid in the pears too, so if you’re going to throw it all out let’s get on with it–” [side trip to recover straying four-year-old.]

Mr. Nineteen, impassively picking up a pudding and beginning to discourse on it: “I think this might be over the limit too.”

Me, staring incredulously, as any moroncretin can see the containers are roughly the same size: “But you don’t know.”

Mr. Nineteen: “Since it’s not printed on the label, I have to use my judgment.”

Me: . o O (Does your vaunted judgment enable you to process the idea that these items are factory sealed for the eating pleasure of a four-year-old, that I currently am in possession of a four-year-old, things of this nature?)

Me: “Fine, if you’re going to throw them away, you’d better get the pears, too, they’re packed in liquid, let’s get on with this–” [reaching for the pears.]

Mr. Nineteen, practically having a conniption: “PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE ITEMS IN THE INSPECTION AREA.”

Me, completely snapped off at the base: “IT’S MY STUFF. THIS IS GETTING OUT OF HAND, DON’T YOU THINK?”

(Bear in mind not many of the words I actually said to him bore any relation to the words I was thinking inside my head.)

Mr. Nineteen: “SUPERVISOR.”

Supervisor, a laid-back middle-aged guy, ambled over. Mr. Nineteen fussily began to show him the snacks in turn. Supervisor passed them all with a wave of his hand. “Sure, she’s got the little guy there. Sure, those are fine. Yeah, she can take those.”

Me, attempting to gather up my things from the dorkwad I seriously want to throw to the floor at this point (and I could’ve done it, too, but then somebody would’ve had to bail me out of jail and my friend in that city was at work and who would’ve looked after four-year-old?…): “Thank you. No, I’ll do this. I’ll put them back in. GIVE THEM TO ME [he didn’t]. Sorry for the unpleasantness [I wasn’t] but I’ve never had a problem before. And I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to touch things [nor do I care, IT’S MY STUFF, ASSHOLES] because I’VE NEVER BEEN INSPECTED BEFORE [slight untruth; I’ve never been harangued over contraband before but I have had the bag opened and its contents rifled].”

Mr. Nineteen, attempting to make it seem as though he hadn’t called over Supervisor just to get me in more trouble: “I just called him over to see if these snacks could go through.” Suuure you did, punk. You were bound and determined to do everything in your power to let me keep my son’s food, weren’t you? Riiiight, sport, keep telling yourself that. I doubt Supervisor was fooled either.

You know, I actually do feel guilty when I show them my temper, because I know they’re doing their jobs. Many of them do it in the most offensive way possible, however, and it just makes me boil. How hard is it, really, to say the following words: “Sorry, ma’am, it’s one of the rules that you’re not to touch this stuff when we have it out for inspection; can you tell me what you’re trying to show me?”

A little tact. And did I mention the consistency? Multiple airports, no problem. This day, because one X-ray chick got her panties in a wad, big problem. Either enforce the rules or don’t. Make me understand what is and is not okay for me to carry for my son to eat, before I leave home and my only option is to enrich the convenience stores around the gates. Sheesh.


  1. Free advice for the day: don’t ever go through the Frankfurt airport. I went through three (yes, three) different security checkpoints before I could get to the gate. Not only were my carry-ons searched each time, but they actually patted me down. Every time. Airport from hell. I’ll say this though. At least the security people in Germany were cheerful and polite. The TSA people we have in the states are indeed total a$$holes. They should force them to work retail for a while so they have to learn what it’s like to be polite to people like themselves. Meanwhile, people like me who know the meaning of customer service should take their jobs. The whole process would be a lot more efficient and pleasant. Shopping would suck, though. :-)

    Comment by Bumble — March 6, 2008 @ 8:59 pm

  2. Free advice for the day: don’t ever go through the Frankfurt airport.


    They pat you down, wave a wand and search any suspicious luggage, but they are friendly about it.

    When I was there, we had a magician in our group and he had a few of his smaller trick items with him in his carry on. So of course he was the one chosen for inspection. It was funny seeing him try to explain why he had four decks of cards, some juggling balls and a couple of wallets.

    And juggling clubs? Seems they resemble rocket propelled grenades.

    Comment by Slublog — March 7, 2008 @ 4:18 pm

  3. TSA travails! I think I may have read in the book Founding Brothers that Alexander Hamilton had to explain to some constabulatory force or other that when they had to perform their normal security duties, they should expect American citizens to push back. Such searches, while necessary and reasonable, represent government intrusion into personal lives, and wasn’t that what that long war against the crown all about?

    Never be afraid to yell at them if they’re screwing up, though. I had to call some of them on the carpet in a large Midwestern airport. They were taking suitcases and literally throwing them. There’s just no excuse for that.

    And here’s what I’ve got for Frankfurt: 1) There was at least one searcher at Frankfurt who was a little TOO friendly one time (reminded me of the Friends episode with Joey’s tailor. I had to restrain myself a bit. 2) I had a pen knife with a 1.5″ blade that I accidentally left in my carry on, it got confiscated and I never saw it again. Lucky for me, the flight served dinner with actual steel flatware. Knife included.

    It’s tough to avoid the FraPort, though; most of the direct flights go there. Every time I’ve tried to fly anywhere else, I end up connecting through Heathrow or Amsterdam.

    Comment by Chris — March 8, 2008 @ 11:20 pm

  4. That’s ridiculous, but I’m glad that the Bean didn’t have to fly hungry.

    The time I went through Frankfurt the wanding was way too personal. Pervert. My German’s not good enough to have done anything about it.

    Flying back from NYC after Thanksgiving I got pulled by the TSA because my ticket, which had my middle name “Anne” on it, did not show the first name that my driver’s license did, even though the driver’s license also showed the name “Anne.” I could not get that young fool to understand that some people go by their middle names. So I got pulled over the the side, searched, etc. All because I go by my middle name.

    Comment by Anne — March 10, 2008 @ 3:35 pm

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace