I like my little brother even though he almost got me arrested.
I was flying home from Dallas after visiting my brother who had been in Israel. He’s brought home some bath salts from the Dead Sea and given me some to bring back to Connecticut. I don’t check a bag and as I came through security at TSA, my suitcase was pulled off the conveyor belt for inspection.
The TSA worker rifled through my bag while I watched. There were two of them. Both friendly. Making small talk. When one found the bath salts the two agreed that was what the machine had red flagged. He asked what they were and I told him that they had made the trip from Israel. He said they would need to test them. I asked what he thought they were. Apparently, you can use flakes that look similar or have a similar density to make a bomb. Not knowing me at all, the TSA worker was unaware that I’m terrified of everything that has even the most remote chance of causing me physical harm. I will not be making a bomb in the near future.
To open the bag, they had to find scissors and pour a few salt pieces out on white one-inch squares of cardboard. The guys took little bottles of something they were going to drop on the salt for testing. Now to this point, we had been chatting and things were going well. So, I teased as he prepared to drop a chemical on the salt, “Should we stand back?
And suddenly his whole demeanor and tone changed, “I don’t know, Mam, should we?” The TSA has rules about liquids and sharp objects, but they don’t have rules about nervous humor or general idiocy. I’d say they should. I think most people think certain rules don’t actually need stating. No bomb jokes should be obvious. He quickly relaxed when I said I was teasing and Matt told me not to crack jokes. Lesson learned. He dripped a small drop of something onto the salt. Nothing happened. It was all pretty anticlimactic, thankfully.
But here’s the lesson. Do not joke with the TSA, even if you have the feeling you’ve developed a fairly good relationship with them as they sort through your delicates. There are certain jokes they are never going to find funny, especially since they don’t know how unlikely I am to blow anything up.