Security Issues

“It’s about my rock, isn’t it?” I asked. The security officer laughed. 

I knew it was the rock because it wasn’t the first flight of the day. Or the first time I had been asked to open my carry-on.

In Frankfurt were was a small cluster of people gathered around the screen looking at the contents of my bag. I couldn’t figure what the issue was.

I was carrying no liquids and the electronics were in a separate bin. I’d forgotten about the rock – but even if I had remembered I wouldn’t have thought of it as a security issue. I plan to use it as a paperweight.

In Frankfurt they were happy to let me go once they had determined that the rock wasn’t dangerous. I guess in the x-ray it might have resembles plastic explosives.

In Montreal the agent was more curious. I told her the rock came from a Roman quartz mine, just outside the German town of Sulzburg. 

I picked it up one afternoon when I was exploring. The mine was open-pit and accessible if you didn’t mind climbing over a few things. I saw the glimmer of quartz in this stone and picked it up as a souvenir.

I didn’t fill in all the details. I didn’t tell her that the mine dates back to the early fourth century, and that the Romans also took silver and gypsum from the area. Plus a few minerals I have forgotten.

One of these days I intend to visit the mining museum, located in a converted church in Sulzburg’s market square. I’ve been saying that for three years – I really need to do it soon.

I suppose I should consider myself lucky they didn’t confiscate it as a weapon. Though how I would overpower a 10-person crew airline with one rock is beyond me.

Still, I now have a paperweight for my desk in Ottawa that will serve as a reminder when the day comes that I no longer live in Sulzburg. 

And I have a story to tell of how I got the rock to Ottawa.


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