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Recent visit to Toronto, part 1: the TSA

This is what happens when you try to bring 3 cannisters of grits into Canada*:

That official-looking document is a note from the TSA, saying they opened my suitcase. The cannister at the top is the cannister of grits they cut open.  They didn't even put it in a plastic bag when they were done - just shoved it back in.

There were grits ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE.  We had to wash all my clothes, plus sweep and vacuum the floor, plus mop.

And I still have grits in my suitcase, weeks later.

I'd had dealings with the TSA in the past, when they confiscated a jar of mustard I'd bought in Canada.  But that was in person, and they were so apologetic and regretful about it that I'd left the encounter with a very positive impression of the TSA.  That's mostly gone now.

I get that they have to do their jobs, and that cannisters of anything packaged in checked baggage are something that have to be inspected, but I don't see why they couldn't have either found a plastic bag for it, emptied the cannister and put it back in the suitcase, or just have thrown away the cannister they'd opened.  They had to know what was going to happen once the suitcase was tossed back on the luggage cart.

I guess there are nice TSA people and not-nice ones.  This was so callous that I've asked myself since whether I broke some rule or guideline that would have resulted in people being pissed off at the owner of this particular suitcase.  I can't think of one.

*Apparently grits are just not something they eat in Canada.  They are hard to get hold of.  My host said she'd asked people to bring grits before, and they had, but this was the first time this had happened.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 19th, 2015 05:43 pm (UTC)
You didn't piss off anyone. You just ran into a complete asshole. Even a piece of tape would have solved the problem, but this TSA person was just a jerk.
Jul. 25th, 2015 07:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah. The callousness of it amazes me!
Jul. 19th, 2015 06:14 pm (UTC)
I'm kind of pissed off on your behalf. I've never had airline officials cut open anything. Or have any problem with food stuffs, even liquid ones. I've transported cans of chili across the pond and jars of pickled stuff back. I've had plenty of rifling through luggage, to be sure, checked and carry on. Going to or from Israel, they scan and sometimes manually inspect checked luggage right in front of you. And leaving London once, they checked me after security, at the gate. Shoes and socks and pockets and carry on. They commented on how much chocolate I was bringing back. But they didn't open any of the packages.
Jul. 25th, 2015 07:11 pm (UTC)
I guess the idea of carrying grits to Canada is so weird that ... well, really, who knows what they were thinking? Maybe a shadow showed up on the X-Ray.
Jul. 20th, 2015 01:37 am (UTC)
if it was in its original packaging and not wrapped in wrapping or brown paper, then they had absolutely *no* right and/or reason to cut it open. You are allowed to ship things in your packed luggage as long as they can see what it is (i.e. not wrapped up). I've shipped open, but carefully resealed, bottles of whisky back from Kansas City in my bag... I assume that the mustard was in your carryon? that's a different story... though when I came back from London in January of 2014 the people in front of me had about 3 dozen foil baby food packs (yes, they had a baby) and they made them open every one of them and take a taste... they could have done that with the mustard...

You should write a letter to the TSA... detail the airport and time and date of the search and tell them that you expect compensation for the damage done. The cost of the grits, any costs you spent to clean the clothes that were in the bag and possibly replacement of the bag itself. You may not be able to get the grits out of it well enough not to get your clothes covered with it again in the future, and if your bag ever gets wet... EWWWW.
Jul. 25th, 2015 07:12 pm (UTC)
I will write a letter. That's a good idea! Even though I don't expect to get any compensation, at least the incident will be documented.

It was in packed luggage. I guess something about it must have seemed suspicious!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )