Stranger saves Minnesota man from bland food at New Orleans airport

David Stites and his hot sauce

NEW ORLEANS – A Minnesota man found himself dependent on the kindness of a stranger after running into a hot sauce roadblock on a recent trip to New Orleans.

Duluth resident David Stites wrote a letter to the customer service department at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport after TSA security officials at the airport refused to let him board his return flight home with three bottles of hot sauce.

Like many visitors to the Crescent City, Stites is a fan of the spicy Creole-inspired cuisine New Orleans is known for, and he wanted to take some hot sauce back home to liven up his local fare.

There was only one problem – the hot sauce bottles were five ounces, and the TSA only allows up to three ounces of liquid at a time.

Stites started looking for a workaround.

“So I did what anyone would do in this circumstance, and took steps to ship it to myself from the UPS drop box,” he wrote.

After securing packaging from a newsstand in the airport and borrowing a pen from a woman waiting for a flight, Stites called UPS to see how much it would cost to ship the bottles of hot sauce home.

Stites said he began the shipping process, “only to find out that the cost of shipping these three dangerous bottles of tasty hot sauce would far exceed their value.”

Discouraged by the bland turn of events, Stites said he offered to give his stash of hot sauce to the woman who loaned him a pen.

That’s when he got a welcomed surprise.

“After a brief discussion in which I outlined the problem, she offered to mail it to me herself,” he wrote. “You could have knocked me over with a feather.”

Stites did not get the kind woman’s name or address, so he’s hoping she will read about his appreciation online and know how thankful he is for her act of kindness.

“Whoever this lady is, she is one of the reasons your city has a great reputation,” he said. “The world needs more individuals like this woman…She went over and beyond the extra mile to help a stranger and she didn’t have to.”

Stites said he is ready to pay the act of kindness forward.

“Dear lady, if you get this, thank you,” he said. “I appreciate it and I’ll do somebody else a favor sometime to pay you back.”

This could have all been avoided, though, if the TSA had just allowed Stites to travel with those two extra ounces of hot sauce.

“Incidentally, I do not understand how five ounces of delicious hot sauce could be a threat to anything other than bland food,” he said. “They even sell hot sauce in the concourse.”