FOX: THE CASE OF THE CONFISCATED TUNA — by Earl Stanley, the Gardener

“The story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been changed to convict the innocent.”

It had rained that day. But now the night sky was clear, it was 5:21 pm as Bubba and Billy Jo entered Hickenloop International Airport in Tuskegee, Alabama. They had pre-registered their flight. On the way to the security area, they stopped to pick up a newspaper and a drink. At the security check point Bubba removed his shoes and Billy Jo slipped off her pink sneakers. The lines were long and neither Bubba nor Billy Jo was in an especially good mood. That would change but not for the better.

The male TSA officer was grumpy after a long day. He had been dealing with constant complaints from travelers who object to what they referred to as “body groping.” He used his index finger to summon Bubba and Billy Jo to the baggage inspection area. He held up a pink truffle bag and unzipped it. He reached in and pulled out twelve five-ounce cans of Chicken of the Sea light tuna. “What are these?” he asked. “Tuna” sed Billy Jo, with a hint of attitude in her voice. “It’s called ‘food,’” she commented sarcastically.

“You can’t carry these on the plane.” She gave him The Look. “What the… why not? I’ve been carrying my own tuna for years?” He gave her the “I could care less” look. “You can take three cans in your bag” he told her. How he arrived at three is a mystery. Hence the name of this story. Billy Jo took three cans and put them back in her bag. Then she put three cans in Bubba’s bag.

Then she pulled her Pampered Chef can opener out of her bag, whipped out a can of tuna, opened the can, took a plastic fork from her bag and proceeded to eat a can of tuna in front of the TSA agent. He was less than pleased. He tossed the remaining five cans into the pile of other confiscated goods. Billy Jo could see machine guns, machetes, computers, fur coats, and a variety of assorted handguns, cigars, dirty clothes, 47,003 toothpaste tubes, 1,500 nail clippers, and Diet Pepsi bottles. The night became colder. And that was inside the terminal.

The next day Billy Jo called the fine folks at Chicken of the Sea. The representative was aghast. “How could they do that?” she asked, not really expecting an answer. She knew about the strange rules that TSA agents had. Of course no other airport confiscates tuna, but then each agent makes up his or her own rules.

The representative at Chicken of the Sea talked to her boss. Her boss talked to his boss. His boss talked to The Big Boss. They planned plotted, schemed, contemplated, connived, thought and pondered. It took almost two years, but they came up with the solution. Today, in your friendly neighborhood supermarket, you will find, DRUM ROLL PLEASE, Chicken of the Sea No Drain tuna. Yes, sirree bobaroo! And in several varieties. You can buy a 4 ounce can, which has more tuna than the none No Drain tuna 5 oz. can, in solid white albacore, solid light tuna, solid light lemon pepper tuna, and solid light Thai tuna. Not too sure about that last one, but I have a sample in my cupboard just waiting for me to open it and thrill my innards.

Not only are these new products no drain, but they come in an easy-to-open pull tab can, and Billy Jo won’t even need her Pampered Chef can opener. I wonder what that TSA agent will do now. There is no need whatsoever to confiscate cans of Chicken of the Sea tuna cuz there is absolutely no liquid in the can. But who’s going to tell TSA? I have tried several times to contact the media relations folks at TSA for comment for this story, but they have never returned a call.

I remember a flight from Denver to Washington Dulles Airport some years ago. I arrived at DIA and checked in with the sky porter outside the terminal. He asked for my driver’s license and I handed it to him. “Uh oh,” he muttered. “Your license has expired.” I told him I hadn’t realized that, but I didn’t think it mattered cuz they just asked for a license, and didn’t say it had to be valid. Later I found out I was wrong.

He called over a supervisor, and after a bit of begging on my part — I had a funeral to attend at Arlington National Cemetery — they let me on the plane. The story was different at Arlington.

I drove a van load of folks to Fort Myers, VA, where the cemetery is housed. The 9 foot 7 inch, 220 lb. marine guard standing at the gate holding a VLMG (Very Large Machine Gun) at the ready asked for my driver’s license. Oh, well, life ain’t always easy. “You may not drive this vehicle onto the base” he sed, rather calmly. “OK, sir, your Royal Chief Commander Lord of Everything” and I moved to the back of the van.

While y’all know I took literary license with my story, the end result is really true. Chicken of the Sea just came out with No Drain tuna, and you can read about it at

LOL. The timing of the release couldn’t have been better.


Dining critic Jay Fox is right, perfect holiday reading for the Thanksgiving weekend when so many people are traveling.

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