safest rock ever.JPG
In May of 2005, I went up to Portland for my friend Harvest's art gallery opening. I had a special gift for her: A GEODE. A Geode is a rock formed by volcanic explosion. It looks completely normal from the outside, but cut it open and it's full of beautiful crystals. I picked this one up on my drive to Santa Fe, New Mexico. When I went through airport security, a crowd of screeners formed around the X-ray screener looking at my bag. "What do you think it is?" one asked, "A cannonball?" They told me they had to hand search my bag. They put on gloves and pulled out the geode, which was wrapped in newspaper. The security woman looked very confused as she delicately unwrapped the paper to reveal... A rock the size of a grapefruit. She gave me a long hard stare. "It's a rock," I told her. She called over one of her coworkers. They didn't say anything, just turned the rock over and over in their hands. Finally the man said "Dual use?" and the woman nodded. "We should call the supervisor." They called over their boss. He was in a suit with a TSA Nametag. "What is it?" he asked. "It's a rock," I answered, "for my friend." "Dual use?" they asked him. "Yeah, dual use," he replied. Then he looked me up and down, decided I wasn't a terrorist, and sighed "Oh, just let him have it." The woman wrapped the rock back up in newspaper. "What's dual use?" I asked. "It's anything that could be used for one thing but also used for another." Thanks for clarifying. I asked her for an example of something else that could have "dual use." "Scissors" she said. "You can use them for cutting, but you could also use them for... Cutting." "What would be the dual use for this rock?" I asked. "Well, you could hit somebody over the head with it or something." "What's the other use?" She stared at me. "Never mind," I said. But she was not satisfied just wrapping the rock in paper. She had to SECURE it. So to keep the airplane safe, she wrapped the rock in official "Department of Homeland Security INSPECTED" tape. -J-