Oh, the countless contraband items that transportation security agents encounter on a busy day! A half-dozen scimitars stuffed into some brightly colored pool noodles. An anal cavity's worth of conflict diamonds destined for the personal jeweler of a belligerent despot. An unopened water bottle containing Holy water secretly swiped from the boudoir of the Pope. But those in charge of ensuring our safety when we travel can still be surprised by the crap some people bring on trains, planes, and buses.
Case in point: Passengers on a TGV train travelling from Brussels to the city of Marseille in Southern France were enjoying the high-speed ride until a suspicious gas-like stench suddenly began to fill the train car.
Given the recent events on a train in Europe in August, when an armed gunman tried to carry out a jihadist attack before being overpowered by other passengers, anyone travelling on a train these days is on high alert for suspicious activity. So we can only imagine the concern of the passengers on the train in question when a strange smell—described as being gassy and suspicious—emanated from somewhere within the train car itself.
As the train sped through the Burgundy region of central France, passengers raised the alarm. Tensions were undoubtedly high. The train was stopped and SNCF, the rail operator, sent specialists to investigate the cause of the smell.
One carriage was permitted to continue to Marseille, but another train car carrying some 250 passengers was evacuated. Firemen from a specialist unit of the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Risk unit were summoned. They searched the train.
And, yes, they found the source of the gassy aroma.
What was it? A "very smelly package of meat," said a spokesman.
That's right. The dangerous gas smell was traced to a passenger's luggage, which contained "several items of fermented food," namely meat.
Gee, that meat-lover must have been mighty embarrassed. And not the favorite person of the other passengers in the car as it finally proceeded along its way to the city of Marseille.
After all, we've all sat next to that person with the Camembert and ham sandwich in the back of coach. Or the family who decides to split a pizza on a Greyhound bus. But this monsieur with the gassy meat?
He may win the award for most reviled passenger of the year.