Monday, November 14, 2011

Places Where My Toothpaste Has Traveled, And Where It Now Rests

"Sir, you're going to have to check that."
Until yesterday, I had a 4.1 ounce tube of Colgate toothpaste. I had taken this particular tube of toothpaste to San Diego, East Asia, San Francisco and then to Spokane without any trouble, and through many airline security checkpoints. No one in the TSA complained about this, my 4.1 ounce tube of toothpaste, which I dutifully bagged in a quart sized baggie and pulled out for the TSA to inspect at every stop along the way.

Until yesterday, when the TSA lady in Spokane pulled my baggie out, gave me the "What are you trying to pull?" squint and said, "Sir, this is a 4.1 ounce tube of toothpaste and TSA guidelines state that you can only have 3.4 ounce containers of toothpaste. Would you like to surrender your toothpaste or go check your bag?"

I did not want to surrender my toothpaste. As I said, it had traveled around with me quite a bit and I was feeling attached to it. So I asked her what it would look like for me to check my bag. She patiently explained that I would be escorted out of the secure zone and allowed to go check my bag and then go through security again. Sigh. Adios, pasta dentifrica.

I know this TSA agent was just doing her job (and I'm glad the TSA is doing their job), but it made me mad. I mean, why can't toothpaste companies make 3.4 ounce containers? And if they do, why doesn't my grocery store carry them? Am I really putting the nation at risk with an extra 7 ounces of toothpaste? And why doesn't it count that I had used at least seven ounces of toothpaste already?

AND ESPECIALLY: Why is it that one of my traveling companions, who was directly in front of me in line and who didn't take her toothpaste out of her bag, and WHO HAD A FULL-SIZED TUBE OF TOOTHPASTE in her bag allowed to keep hers? Am I being profiled? Should I have left my tube of toothpaste in my bag instead of taking it out? Is the TSA lady brushing her teeth with my toothpaste right now? Is it true that Crest is less likely to be noticed or confiscated by the TSA?

In the meantime, I guess it's back to filling my depleted three ounce tubes with a giant 97 ounce tube from Costco.