The Time I Slow Jammed with the TSA

You know, I’ve never been a huge fan of jam or jelly, but it seemed to taste so much better this morning. One day before, I had accomplished my goal of visiting all of the lower 48 states before I turned 30, by checking off the state of Maine. I’ll write a post soon specifically about my Maine trip. Now on my way home for Christmas, an early flight from Boston brought me through the TSA checkpoint and I heard the two words every traveler hopes for, “bag check.” Let the TSA abuse begin.

The agent brought me back over to his station and unwrapped a 7.5 ounce jar of organic blueberry jam, (I was told Maine was well known for its blueberries so I picked one up.) The TSA agent tells me I can’t take it with me because, “technically that’s a gel and the 7.5 ounce container is over the 3 and a half ounce limit.” I can throw it out, or leave it with them, or go back and check it. I ask him what the limit is, (I’m quite aware) to get the formal answer of 3.4 ounces.

I then proceed to have a little back and forth fun with him, asking if I need to eat half the jar before I can proceed onward. I suggest that I’ll get rid of half the contents of the jar so I can then go through. He seemed to go through the five stages of grief during our minute long conversation. He was incredulous I would suggest something, then couldn’t believe I was thinking of it. Then shock, awe, sadness, acceptance, maybe a bit tired…

Whatever the stages are, he experienced them. Him: “::Sigh:: Sir…you… but… I mean… it’s a 7 ounce jar and the limit is three, you can’t take it through…” Me: “Okay I got it, I got it, I think I got it… So I need to throw out or eat about half the jar and then I’ll be allowed. The limit is 3.4 so as long as I’m under that limit I’ll be allowed. I understand.” I used the affirmative. I didn’t “ask” him. There was no question mark., “and THEN I’ll be allowed?” Rather it was, “and then I’ll be allowed. “(period)

At one point I ask him to draw a line on the jar so I know how much I need to toss or consume. I don’t think he realized I was being a smart ass due to me keeping a completely straight face. He doesn’t write on it, but points to an arbitrary mark on the jar. At this point the only thought going through my head, besides how useless the TSA is, is “I would literally rather dig out 4 ounces of jam with my fingers and eat it in front of you and call your bluff on whether or not you’re going to measure how many ounces are left…than let the TSA have my jam…”… And so I did.

Thumbs up for the best jam I've ever had!

Thumbs up for the best jam I’ve ever had!

I walk to the front of the security line, open up my 7.5 ounce jar of jam and proceed to scoop out finger fuls. Some I leaked into a waiting trash bin and some I ate myself. It was delicious! There’s no doubt in my mind my jar of jam would have served as an extra Christmas present for some random TSA agent, so I would have rather dumped it in the trash than allowed them to keep it.

The glass is definitely half full when you prevent a TSA agent from acquiring an extra Christmas present.

The glass is definitely half full when you prevent the TSA from acquiring extra Christmas presents.

I walked back through security, put my bag through and got the, “okay” from the agents. It’s curious how much of what TSA does is completely arbitrary. My dangerous, possibly explosive jam was a threat because it was 7.5 ounces large, but my jam of about 3.5 ounces was somehow not. And what if it was 3.6 ounces or 4 ounces? No one measured, or weighed it… It was just an eyeball decision. If you ever had any faith in what the TSA is doing, (and you shouldn’t) it’s hard to argue how incredibly foolish the agency is for spending time hassling travelers on Christmas over blueberry jam.