BISMARCK, North Dakota – A geologist flying home from a geological field course was recently interrogated about the contents of his baggage. While he declined to appear on the popular television show Border Security, he has released a transcript of the interaction to 2P News. As a professional earth scientist, he wants to ensure our border agencies have a better understanding of geology, and how it pertains to rock sniffers and the contents of their bags on flights. Here is the official transcript of the conversation, and the follow up conversation a few weeks later with the same border agents.
TSA: Sir what’s in your bag?
Me: Well, technically its petrified wood from the Inyan Kara formation of the Dakota group.
Me: I said its petri…..
TSA: Ya ya ok.. but why is it in your bag?
Me: Well look at it. It’s huge. I’m not going to carry it around in my hand.
TSA: Uhmmm ya, but why do you have it?
Me: Because it’s a great specimen from a wonderfully porous, water wet sandstone. We found a particularly shaley out crop of it in the badlands on the Little Missouri and it kind of contradicts the general sedimentological and depositional model in the region.
TSA: Huh? You do know the Little Missouri is a state park?
Me: No I said on the little Missouri, not in Little Missouri state park. I talked to a guy and went on private property.
TSA: Why would he let you do that?
Me: Why wouldn’t he let me do that? It’s not like there’s a lucrative market in petrified wood.
TSA: So there’s no value to it?
Me: Purely sentimental and educational.
TSA: So this is for education?
Me: Uuuuummmm sure.
TSA: So it’s not for education?
TSA-2: He has a University of Calgary ID in his wallet…
TSA: Oh so you’re with a university?
TSA: So it’s for education, and you’re with U of C, but it’s not going there?
Me: Well, I might mention I found it but no.
TSA: Ok so I don’t get it. Why do you have it?
Me: Well as I was saying it’s a….
TSA: Yes I heard you the first time. So what will you do with it????
Me: Probably just throw it in the garden.
TSA: All this for a lawn ornament?
Me: But it’s not just an ornament, it’s a piece of…
TSA: Ya ya, I get it.
Me: I don’t think you do.
TSA: You know it puts your bag over the weight restriction?
Me: Likely. Why do you think I didn’t check it. Plus we both know that’s a bullshit rule, plus the flight is empty.
TSA: Fair enough, I’m not the airline, that’s their problem.
Me: Not your circus, not your monkey. So we’re good?
TSA: I suppose you’re not doing any harm.
Me: I wouldn’t think so. So I’m good?
TSA: Yes, collect your stuff.
Me: Hey are they serving beer up there yet?
TSA: Sir, it’s 6:30 am. You’re going to have to wait until 8 am. Have a nice day.
Apparently they never dealt with geologists down there.
AND 3 weeks later on the way back again——
Me: Good morning!
TSA: Hey, you’re the guy with the rocks.
Me: Not today. That was fucking painful last time.
TSA: Well it’s not every day we see a guy hauling around rocks.
TSA: Do you have any liquids?
Me: Does a Mickey count?
TSA: What’s a Mickey?
TSA: Sir, we don’t joke
Me: No kidding, eh?
TSA: So about the liquids????
Me: Well, a Mickey is a 375ml bottle of spirits that is 35% alcohol or greater. Maybe that’s a Canadian term. What do you call that in the great state of North Dakota ?
TSA: We call that “you’re not allowed to bring that through”.
Me: And you claim you don’t make jokes.
TSA: We are not joking you can’t have that.
Me: These are pretty sweet cowboy boots eh?
Me: So you don’t dig the boots?
TSA: They are very nice boots, but you can’t bring the alcohol through.
Me: But it fits in the plastic bag?
TSA: Still not allowed
Me: But the sign right here says…
TSA: I am well aware of what the sign says.
Me: I don’t think you are because it states….
TSA: Are we going to do this every time you fly out?
TSA: ****blank look like they are not enjoying our little chat****
Me: I bought it at the duty free store…
TSA: Sir you’ve been here before, this is North Dakota. It’s not an international airport, we don’t have a duty free store.
ME: That’s not what the guy in the parking lot said. ANNND I am flying international and this is a special gift.
TSA: Sir, it’s a bottle of Jim beam, who is it a gift for?
Me: Well for me, but it’s not a bottle.
TSA: Oh it isn’t?
ME: No it’s a Mickey of Jim Beam that fits within the allotted “liquids must be contained within….”
TSA: Yes you made that point.
Me: Well, the sign doesn’t state that you discriminate between liquids just that all liquids must be within…
TSA: You really like to push the limits of rules.
Me: Well that’s why we have them right? I mean if the sign didn’t clearly say that “any and all liquids must be contained within…” then we would really have a fucking conundrum on our hands wouldn’t we? I mean we need rules. This isn’t Nam, it’s an airport.
TSA#2: Oh it’s the geologist again?
TSA#1: Yes he has…
Me: <Interrupting> I have a Mickey which is exactly 357ml of…which fits in….
TSA#2: It’s probably just easier to let him take it. Technically the rules state that…
Me: Thank you. Hey you guys need a rule about rocks!
TSA#2: Sir please proceed you may take your Mickey.
[Editor’s note: This article depicts real transactions between a Canadian geologist and U.S. border officials. It is not satire or parody. This really happened, people.]