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Gold Mercury Glass and Elephants - Stopped by Airport Security


My wife and I are retired and living in Middle Tennessee. We love living in this beautiful state.

You Have Mercury?

Mercury Glass Vase

Mercury Glass Vase

TSA tends to get a lot of negative press. As with any large agency, there are probably some good reasons for that; however, TSA is not all bad. They are often doing a great job keeping us safe.

My wife, Linda, and I were traveling from Los Angeles, California, to Nashville, Tennessee. As we were going through security at LAX, I noticed that our carry-on luggage exited the x-ray machine and traveled down a separate conveyor. I said, "Our bag went down a side ramp." I thought that something must be up with that bag. As we started gathering our belongings, a TSA agent came up to me carrying our luggage and said, "Sir, is this your bag?"

Scary Scenes of Airport Security

Immediately every movie and TV show where people were caught smuggling drugs or weapons came to mind. I had visions of the show "Locked Up Abroad." Sometimes those people didn't even know they were smuggling. I was a bit tempted to present my arms with wrists together and say, "I give up. You caught me," but I just said, "Yes" as I tried to look as innocent as I could.

The TSA agent said, "I need to look in this bag. Meet me at the table when you get your belongings." I said, "Sure, okay," in as friendly and unafraid a voice as I could muster.

Too Dumb to Travel?

We tend to travel like we are going on a safari, so we usually use about a half dozen of those plastic bins at the x-ray conveyor. After our items exited the x-ray, we collected our laptop, shoes, belts, jackets, cushions, wallets, Linda's purse, and our neck pillows and headed to the table. I turned away from the security conveyor and saw several tables. I said, "Well, which table is it?" I didn't remember what the TSA agent looked like, but I was pretty sure he was wearing a shirt.

Linda and I seem to lose several dozen IQ points when we travel. We’re sort of like Ma and Pa Kettle. If our kids were little and we were at an airport, we would probably need to tie them to us with ropes. We once had difficulty getting out of the Chicago O'Hare Airport, because we couldn't figure out the elevator buttons. There were no buttons for "1," "L," or "G," and there were several parking levels below the building. I didn't know what button to push. Linda finally figured out that it was "M" for mezzanine. When the elevator door opened, we were in a hotel. We didn't even realize that we had left the airport. To make matters worse, our son was picking us up and couldn't find us. It turned out he was at the Chicago Midway Airport, and we were at the Chicago O'Hare Airport.

Anyway, I finally saw our bright greenish-yellow carry-on bag. So we headed to that table.

The TSA agent again said, "I need to look in this bag." I nodded and said, "Okay, fine." Again, using that unafraid voice. The agent then asked if we had any glass shaped like animals. I said that we did not have any animal shaped glass, but that we did have some mercury glass vases. He gave me a concerned look and said, "You have mercury?" I said, "No, it's mercury glass." He said, "I've never heard of that. I need to see that glass."

(Note: Mercury glass does not actually contain mercury.)

Mercury Glass


I Forgot About the Elephants

I found the two gold mercury glass vases. They were securely covered in paper and plastic bubble wrap. We brought them with us on the plane so they wouldn't get tossed around and broken in our checked luggage. The agent opened the first vase and said, "Oh wow. That is nice." He checked each vase, and then said, "So you don't have any animal shaped glass." Then I remembered that we had also purchased stone elephants and placed them in the carry-on bag. I said, "Well we have two stone elephants." The agent said, "You have stone elephants? I need to see them."

Securely Wrapped Elephants


The elephants were big balls of paper covered bubble wrap. I said, "This must be them because they are so heavy. The agent tore into the wrapping and checked each elephant. He said, "Those are nice." He then said, "Okay, sorry I had to undo the wrapping." I said, "That's okay, no problem. Thanks for doing your job and keeping us safe."

Just an Innocent Traveler

We then exited security. It's always such a relief to make it through airport security. It's almost as if I'm guilty and relieved that they didn't find the drugs or anything else I was smuggling. Just kidding - I haven't smuggled drugs in years. Just kidding again - I have never smuggled drugs. In fact, I don't use drugs, and the only drug I travel with is caffeine - in the form of freshly ground coffee beans. I take my coffee everywhere, even on camping and hiking trips. But for some reason, airport security always makes me feel like (to quote Britany Spears), "I'm not that innocent." It's always nice to get the security check over with.

Stone Elephants


TSA Approved Stone Elephants

So after we made it through security, I started wondering why TSA was so concerned about stone elephants. Then I realized that the x-ray machine could not see through them, so the agent had to inspect them to make sure there were no hinges or openings where drugs or explosives could be stashed.

So I guess we have TSA approved stone elephants that are safe for travel.

This experience made me feel good about airport security. I was glad that TSA was so diligent in doing their job to keep is safe. Thank you, TSA!

© 2019 Ron Grimes


Ron Grimes (author) from Tennessee on August 20, 2019:

Thank you, Liz Westwood. I'm surprised that blunt scissors would not be allowed through security.

Liz Westwood from UK on August 20, 2019:

This is a great account of your experience going through security. We once got stopped and bags searched. Our 8 year old daughter had put her pencil case in her carry on bag. A pair of blunt ended child's scissors were removed. You can never be too careful!