The Mysteries of the TSA

A Goldblog reader writes about a recent encounter with a Transportation Security Administration officer at JFK:

As I passed thorough the metal detector, my carry-on bag was flagged by the TSA and, after a cursory inspection of my turkey sandwich (which was judged to be benign), the TSA officer pulled the culprit item in my toiletry kit: L'Oreal's Studio Line Invisi-Gel.  "This gel container's too large.  You'll either have to check your bag or I'll keep this."  I shot the officer a plea for sympathy: "My Invisi-Gel?"  "Don't worry," she added encouragingly,"You can get another one at Rite-Aid."

I thought it over.  I'd rather lose the $5 gel tube than pay a $40 bag-check fee.  "Enjoy it," I said, concealing my irritation.  She replied, quietly, looking away from me: "I will." Do TSA employees get to keep this stuff?  Items confiscated due to their potential for hazard wind up in employees' bathrooms?

The official answer is, Of course TSA employees don't get to keep the often-expensive, often-unopened health and beauty products that end up in TSA waste bins. The unofficial answer is, If you were an underpaid federal employee looking at a thrown-away bottle of L'Oreal's Studio Line Invisi-Gel (whatever that is), would you take it if you could?