Beware Of Dual-Use Items
Robert Thorsen, a self-described middle-aged, balding, blond and
blue-eyed Scandinavian-American, and occasional contributing
editorialist for the Hartford Courant, got the Treatment. You know,
the one you get when you annoy the TSA screener at the airport?
I hear you asking, "So what happened? Did Thorsen forget a nail
file in his bag? Try to smuggle drugs? The dreaded paper
clip? A gun?" Actually, none of the above. But he did try to
bring a weapon, according to the TSA.
You see, Thorsen is a geologist, and he was on his way to a
geologist's conference. In his carry-on bag -- he says he doesn't
like to check bags -- he'd placed a Gneiss (pronounced like nice).
That's a rock. A rare specimen to be sure, but still, just a rock.
The photo below is a representative example... not the actual
The TSA folks, at least those at Bradley International in
Hartford Connecticut, regard Gneiss as dual-use items... meaning,
we suppose, they can be used for more than one purpose. We
guess it's dual-use because secondarily, a Gneiss can also be as a
weapon -- cave-man style. Although, we're not quite sure what its
primary use is.
According to the Hartford Courant, when the screener told
Thorsen he had a dual-use item in his carry-on, Thorsen asked
somewhat flippantly, "What, pray tell, is a dual-use item?"
Unfortunately for Thorsen, carrying an attitude is almost as
dangerous as carrying a weapon at the airport these days. The
screener hailed a supervisor because... well because you just have
to double-team a smart-aleck.
He was told he could either go back and check his bag, or give
up the Gneiss. And no, he was told, he couldn't leave it and pick
it up later. TSA doesn't secure personal property.
With no time to check the bag, he had no choice, Thorsen's
Gneiss was forever lost in TSA-confiscated-item purgatory. It's
probably sitting on someone's desk right now... a lonely
paperweight, never to serve its primary purpose again -- whatever
We guess the moral of this story is, if you want to keep your
Gneiss, you should be more nice. Or check it. The Gneiss or the
attitude... or both.