I flew out to San Francisco yesterday from Boston to attend Oracle's OpenWorld Conference, and got to see some "TSA theatre" in action. I had put all my liquids and gels in the required 1 quart bag, and one of the screeners saw that one of the items was saline solution for my contact lenses.
"That's over the limit!" she yelled. "That's a 4 ounce container and you're only allowed 3 ounces." I started to explain that the TSA regulations on the TSA Web site said a 4 oz. container of saline solution was OK as long as you declared it (probably because a lot of people wear contact lenses and you can't buy a 3 oz. container from any supplier). But before I could get started she said with a huge wave of imperiousness, "But I'll check with my superior to see if he'll make an exception," implying that she was doing me a huge favor, as opposed to following the rules as written. After about three minutes -- I'd made it through the screening by then -- she returned announcing, "Well, he made an exception this time," darkly hinting that I'd better not try it again. I pointed out that there hadn't been any similar histronics when I flew out of Logan last week, and she said, "I can't imagine why they allowed that."
Last week I sat with a woman on the flight back from Minneapolis and she'd had her cosmetics confiscated. She'd packed them in her checked baggage on the way out and hadn't really thought about gathering them together on the flight back. She did have the quart bag, but had few things in it. There was plenty of room in the quart bag for her cosmetics, but TSA wouldn't allow them to transfer them to it. She'd turned up with an almost empty plastic bag and she wasn't going to pull any last minute shennigans on TSA, no sirree.
I do get riled by episodes like this, but then I think, "Still, it's cheaper than going to see Robin Williams perform." You've just got to stand back and enjoy the show.