Grandma Dollop and Airport Security

SavvyAirports do not like out of the ordinary objects. The United States Transportation Security Administration cares even less for hard to explain items. And downright magical things throw a monkey wrench into the entire barefoot, pat-down process of getting through airport security in a timely fashion—especially if the Chicken Dance is involved. This is what I recently discovered when I tried to take one of Grandma Dollop’s jars with me in my carry on luggage for a school visit in the Chicago area.

For anyone who’s not read Savvy yet, or who may simply need a refresher, Grandma Dollop’s savvy—her unique know-how—is the ability to capture radio waves and can them in jars like dusty, bulky, clear glass iPods. Loosening the lid of any of these jars allows one to listen to whatever’s trapped inside, but removing the lid completely frees the song or news item or long-winded State of the Union address back into the air where it becomes lost for good—unless Grandma’s there to recapture it once again.

IngridjarI have one of Grandma Dollop’s jars. It plays the Chicken Dance. A tune that can lodge itself into your phonological loop and stick there to torture you for hours if careful precautions aren’t taken in advance. Maybe this was the true source of the TSA’s concerns over the very ordinary looking glass jar in my backpack. Perhaps it wasn’t the fact that I’d carefully wired the lid of the jar with a micro speaker, coin cell, and an elaborately thought-out but simply executed leaf switch built around a C-shaped piece of paper taped inside the jar, that required three different TSA agents to tilt their heads and ponder what it was that they might be seeing in the X-ray monitor at Denver International Airport. Perhaps it was the energetic oom-pah-pah Chicken Dance trapped inside the jar that was the real threat. I know plenty of people who would agree.

But as soon as the TSA officials discovered a whole cheesecake in the bag of the woman next to me, the security officers let me pack up my jar and move along to catch my plane. It turns out that cheesecake is much more interesting than a magical jar full of accordion music. Who knew?

Ingrid Law