You can’t ship made-up things, apparently:
The FedEx guy then grabs cans of nitrogen (N2) and neon (Ne), with their store-advertised “purity” of 78.084 percent and 0.0018 percent respectively (which was our way of being clever about selling cans of normal air, since that’s their percentage in the atmosphere — which, of course, was our way of making more money for 826 Seattle by selling products that cost almost nothing to produce). Here’s what the atmospheric gas cans look like on the shelf:
FedEx guy: Nope. You can’t ship these either.
Me: But… they’re empty! It’s just air. And… nitrogen? It’s, like, almost 80% of the atmosphere. There’s nothing dangerous about nitrogen, even if it were pure.
FedEx guy: They look too much like bomb-making materials.
Me [going into dumbfounded mode]: Bomb… Neon? What? Is there anything here I can legally ship? How about this bottle of tap water?
I hand him a bottle of Certainty (tagline, “For when it’s preferable to think you know more”), which looks like this: [pic elided]
FedEx guy: Nope. It still looks too suspicious, too much like bomb-making materials.
Me: But it’s “Certainty.” That’s not even a thing. I just made that up. [That’s not strictly true. It’s a scientific term/idea, and we sell it alongside bottles of “Uncertainty.” But it’s like having a bottle labeled “Friendship.”]
FedEx guy: It’s just too suspicious.
Me [going into post-9/11, TSA-style super-dumbfounded mode]: So what you’re saying is you can’t ship any sort of containers, even if they’re empty? You know that we originally ordered these empty cans and jars from a company, and they shipped them to us.
FedEx guy: They must have used a different vendor [“vendor”? I can’t remember, some word like that, like a “service”].
Which I imagine he said because he couldn’t bring himself to say, “It’s the words that are on the containers that are dangerous” — even after I had opened them all and demonstrated the utter harmlessness/emptiness of the containers themselves.