Every time I’ve flown through an airport in the U.S. Rice Belt lately, my carry-on bags have been pulled aside and searched as I went through airport security. No, I wasn’t packing a weapon, carrying explosives or even toting liquids in larger than 3.4-ounce bottles.
Scofflaw that I am, I was bringing bags of rice through the airport.
Each time, my encounter with the Transportation Security Administration inspector is similar. After my bags are pulled aside, he or she opens them up, roots through them and locates the offending bag or bags of rice.
He or she will either put the rice bags through the x-ray machine separately or swab my carry-on bag along with the rice bags.
I always ask if they’ve never seen rice before. After all, (fill in the state) is one of six-rice producing states in the nation, I tell them. They typically give me a blank stare or wonder why anybody would want to bring home rice.
I then explain that it’s not just any rice but it’s special. It’s Jazzman II aromatic rice from Louisiana, purple Blanca Isabel rice from Louisiana or Sierra aromatic rice from Texas.
Once again, a blank stare. I give up trying to reason with them.
But I did have a TSA inspector tell me once that they have difficulty identifying the rice in the carry-on bag because it shows up as a dense, black object on the x-ray screen. At least now I know.
You’d think with today’s technology that can magnify even the smallest organism replicating, identify a long-time serial killer through DNA or slice through a cinder block and still cut a tomato paper thin they’d be able to develop a machine that can differentiate between rice and explosives.
Until then, when rice is outlawed…only outlaws will have rice.