My brother is a shoe bomber (Or… context matters)

My brother is a 29-yr-old police officer in a mid-sized town in Kansas. He is also pretty close to squeaky-clean. Knowing those facts makes the following story even more funny. Trust me.

So…. my brother is in Nashville for an FOP convention (for the uninitiated, that’s the Fraternal Order of Police). While wandering around the sights after the convention wraps, the sole of his boot starts to separate. He, being the McGyver type and also a serious cheapskate, decides to use superglue to reattach the sole. He makes the repair, and satisfied with the results, winds up the trip, packs and heads to the airport.

As he goes through the security checkpoint and goes to pick up his belongings from the xray conveyor belt, he notices his boots are sitting atop the xray box and TSA agents are approaching him. They let him know that they’ve discovered a discrepancy with his shoes… can he explain?

He tells them the story of the separated sole and the resulting repair. They “uh-huh” him, ask for his ticket, photo ID, when his plane is supposed to be taking off and where his flying companion is (“Did someone just drop you off here, sir? Didn’t you arrive with anyone else?”) My brother points out his patiently waiting (and quietly laughing) buddy. More TSA agents arrive and escort my brother and his suspicious shoes to a little room for further questioning.

He tells the separated sole story another 3 times to various agents. He tells them why he’s in town… they “Uh-huh” him again and huddle in the corner of the room, discussing the suspicious boot. An agent explains that they’ve seen a round metal disc inside the sole of the glued boot and this is the problem. My brother, being the resourceful guy he is, volunteers to cut open the boot to retrieve/examine whatever the thing is… saying, “If I dropped a quarter in there, I want it back, of course!” The agents don’t see the humor and tell him they cannot cut it open to look (what if it blows up?) and they can’t ask him to cut it open, either.

Being a police officer, he understands that for what it is… we can’t ask you to do it, but you can do it yourself if you want. So, given that they are in a TSA area, no one has a knife. My brother takes a key and saws at the glue. After a while, an agent procures a knife, cuts a hole in the sole, examines the metal plate inside the boot, and returns the boot to my single-shoed brother.

He made his flight and is determined to repair the boot. But not with superglue and not right before a flight.

The moral of the story? No matter how sensible, logical, well-meaning or well-thought out your actions may be, in the wrong context, they’ll make a TSA agent cut open your shoe.

Always consider the context. 🙂


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