I protested: Just up that escalator, ten yards away, is a gift-shop that sells butane lighters.
Oh, no, that's not true, the TSA Fed said.
I guarantee you it is, I said, as her supervisor let all the gas out of my lighter.
So, I went up the escalator and bought a butane lighter, just like this one, with the name of the airport silk-screened on it, for $2.11.
I took it back down to the security checkpoint and showed it to the TSA supervisor.
Oh ho, he said, this is different -- it has a smaller flame than your lighter.
So I flipped off the wind-shield, and cranked the little valve-control lever around counterclockwise, and then lit the lighter. A foot-long jet of flame shot out of it.
Well, he said, the TSA is still getting its act together -- we'll harmonize our policies with the gift-shops later.
For the record, when I ran my jacket through the x-ray at LAX, the TSA guards there didn't say a thing. Discuss
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.