The Sunscreen Conspiracy

tpWe the People of the Untied States of America have declared this object to be a clear and present danger.

Yep. Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba nearly missed his flight, and his meeting, for the sake of this crumpled, half-empty, tube of toothpaste. Which, as Our agent crisply informed me, was longer than the regulations allowed for carryon baggage (I didn’t have checked baggage on this occasion), and was not in the regulation ziplock baggie.

I don’t know how come – perhaps it was the early hour, perhaps it was the fact that it was a Sunday, perhaps it was the patent absurdity of the situation – but YFNA, for the price of a lecture, got to keep the toothpaste.

As I meandered towards my gate, it seemed to me that every third person I saw was wearing the uniform of the TSA. Which I could not help thinking stands for Transportation Employment Security Administration. I mean, what a racket. Especially in this economy. “Your worry is our job security”. I should write about this, I thought. Then I remembered: I already had (the late Felloffatruck Publications blog, 10 April 2007)

DISCLAIMER: The following is a work of fiction. Resemblances to living persons, or extant organizations, are for satirical purposes, or are coincidental.

* * * * *

¡Hola, Angel!”

“Hi, Jack.”

“Watch your mouth, amigo. You’re still in uniform, y’know. ‘No bomb jokes, please. All remarks will be taken seriously. Your restraint is appreciated’. Yours too. Never know when a supervisor’s watching … Buy you a beer? You look like you could use one.”

“Jim Beam, on the rocks. A double.”

Whoh-ah! That’s not your usual Corona. Bad day at the X-ray?”


“Did you get Rosenberged?”

“Nah. Nothin’ obvious got by me.”

“The teeming masses more unwashed than usual?”

“Just the opposite, actually. Dammit.”

“Well, we got the corner table. Quiet and lonely. Y’wanna talk, I’m listening.”

“I need a hit first … Ever have one of those days when you’re goin’ along, doin’ your job, mindin’ your own business, then something totally ordinary happens and it freaks you out?”


“So I’m runnin’ the machine, lookin’ at combs and brushes and pills and condoms and things, you know, the usual invasions of airline passenger privacy, and I have to stop this anglo’s backpack and pull this hulking big bottle of sunscreen out of it.

“‘Oh, Jésus, here we go’, I’m thinkin’. The stuck-pig routine. ‘Whaddaya mean, it can’t go on the plane?’ Beggin’ and pleadin’ and excuse-makin’. You gringos are all alike. I’m just waitin’ for him to start the song and dance. And he doesn’t!!

“‘Sorry, dude’, he goes. ‘My bad. Didn’t remember it was in there. Toss it away.’

“‘Don’t you want the bag?’, I says. The bottle was in a baggie like it was supposed to be in if it wasn’t so big a bottle.

“‘Nope. Out it goes.’ No debate, no drama. He even smiled at me.”

“What’s wrong with that? Sounds like good news to me. The cattle are finally getting it.”

“Yeah. We got ’em cowed all right. The Moo Crew. They’ll take anything we tell ’em. Do anythin’ we say. ‘Your security is important to us.’ Damned right it is. How much longer are we gonna keep runnin’ this scam?!?

Whoa whoa whoa, Angel mi caballero. Protect and Serve. Remember?”

Sí, sí. Protect and Serve the stock exchanges. They sell, we seize, they sell some more. Looks great on the corporate annual reports. And these people ain’t got no clue!!

“And they ain’t gonna get no clue, hombre. Not while I have anything to say about it. I like my paycheck. Something wrong with yours? We can fix that. Say the word. I know who to ask. The liquids fund is flush, and the jackknife pool’s a consistent payer. I’m sure we can make it good.”

“So I’m right. The only bombs I’m guardin’ against are the ones under the chairs of the CEOs? The ones triggered by bad profit projections?”

“I suppose this isn’t a good time to tell you about the strip searches.”

“The what?”

“The strip searches. Ever hear of nitrocellulose?”


“Slept through the last training vid, did we? Nitrocellulose. Plant fibers soaked in acid, then dried. Look at it cross-eyed and it goes up in flames. Big time. Your jockey shorts could be an incendiary device, and you’d never know it.”

¡Caramba! How do you detect this stuff?”

“You don’t. Every natural cloth is suspect. Cotton, linen, grass skirts, you name it. Only way to be sure is to strip everybody, and if it ain’t wool or polyester, it’s in the bin. I’m surprised you haven’t been wondering about the massive terminal reconstructions.”

“I thought that was for more security lines.”

“Rookie. They’re for the new post-security Targets and Macys, and they’ll be selling flight-certified clothes. At a captive-market markup, of course.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t get Wal-Mart.”

“We offered, they considered, they declined. ‘Your market’s not big enough for us’, they said. They’ll regret it.”

No más, white boy, no más. I’m going back to construction.”

“Sorry to hear that, amigo. I thought you were a team player.”

“I’m keepin’ my mouth shut, Jack. But my team wants me to be sleepin’ at night. Not sweatin’ this stuff. Even if that means México again. Hell, I can’t even think about this any more without goin’ giddy. Gettin’ damned hard to think at all. Wha’d they put in this shot, anyway?”

“Something to keep you safe, and me happy. Something undetectable. A Dios, Angel. Hope you got one waiting for you. Waiter!!!

  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2007, 2009 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.


  1. At Frankfurt airport, in a long line to get past security screening, they were checking bags for contraband toothpaste, etc. My ziplock is too big for standards so the security woman takes my bathroom products out of my gallon bag and places them in a regulation 1.5 liter bag. And we all went forward safely. Remind me to but stock in ziplock.

  2. When we came back from England, security checked my wife’s insulin pump for explosives. To say the guard looked sheepish would be an understatement. She was just following orders after all, and the uniforms look so pretty.

  3. confirms my long-held suspicion that it’s a scam to boost airport turnover, especially since duty-free between eu countries was abandoned. The suckers pay again!

  4. Seven years after it was too late, Dawg, I finally saw an airport placard explaining the purpose of the baggie. It said that if it’ll fit in the regulation-sized bag, it’ll make too small a boom to matter. Buy now, stocks are rising.

    Will a bombed plane fly if God is its copilot, Sue? 😉

    But to a certain turn of mind, Brian, an insulin pump is precisely where one would stow a bomb. You’ve been around this blog long enough to know my thinking – so long as We the People are known around the world primarily for our greed and arrogance, there will be those who try to strike at us. Which breeds more “security”, which breeds more strikers, which breeds more security, and on and on until the whole system comes crashing down and the strikers have gotten us to devour ourselves.

    Just don’t say that in front of the scammers scanners, Q.

    Sheep, Mimi. Sheep.

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