Nick, what's really funny and quite a mind-bender is that of all the countries in the world that have stepped up security measures after September 11th, the TSA, working for the country that started all this mad security tightening and is the most paranoid country in the world when it comes to airport security, has the laxest, most chit-chatty security teams of any country I've ever passed through customs in. You don't see French and German and British and Japanese security officers chit-chatting. Makes you wonder exactly how secure the check points really are in the States.
As an aside, here is a tip that worked for me, though I'm sure it probably isn't something everyone should try. I managed to slip a raw sausage through Swiss security by stuffing it into an extra shoe I was carrying. The security officer found it, of course, and took it out to question me about it:
"Is this a sausage in your shoe?"
"Why, yes, officer, it is."
"You know that I nearly thought it was an explosive?"
"I hadn't considered that, officer."
"But the shoe certainly does protect the sausage from getting crushed."
"Yes, sir, that it does. My intentions exactly."
"Is it a soft-type saucisson from the Mont Blanc region?"
"Why yes! It is! You certainly know your sausages."
He smiled and looked up dreamily to the ceiling. "Ah, it's been a while since I climbed in the western Alps. You've triggered some good memories. And great culinary times!"
"Yes, I know exactly how you feel. I was hoping to bring that back with me to Japan."
He nodded. "I take it you can't get such sausages in Japan?"
"Oh no, not at all! Japan's sausages are awful."
"Ah, a pity. To be so long without a good sausage."
He nods again. "All right. I'll let it go just this once. Take your sausage and enjoy a bite for me when you get back home."
"Thank you officer!"
"Just one thing..."
"Don't keep it too long in that shoe. It's a sacrilege. And that smell... well, to each his own, I guess."
"Right, officer. It's just temporary."
"Make sure that it is."