I had an interesting experience on an overnight trip to Chicago this week. As everybody knows, security since 9/11 is much tighter, particularly at airports. Leaving Salt Lake International, I was obliged to remove my shoes and belt, and to empty the contents of my pockets. I also had to take my laptop out of my bag. No big deal. It’s all in the name of safety. I don’t mind the inconvenience.
Then they searched one of my bags, which was just a piece of medical equipment called a CPAP machine. No big deal. So I snore so badly that it requires mechanical intervention—I’m not ashamed of it. I don’t know what they thought the machine was for, but it’s not perverted or nefarious, so who cares right?
On the way home, carrying exactly the same bags, I removed the same articles of clothing and followed the same protocol. Not surprisingly, they called for a bag check. I thought it was the CPAP machine again, but no. This time something in the other bag raised an alarm.
They searched very carefully, but I had no idea what they were looking for. The bag is a messenger bag that is always with me. It carries my iBook, some papers that have never been attended to, a bicycle tire patch kit, a bottle of generic excederin, pens, bank deposit slips, etc. What I had forgotten, and what the security personnel had spotted on the x-ray was a smail lockback knife in a nylon case embroidered with the name “fighter plus.”
Oops! Suddenly, and for the second time in one day, I was reminded of the time as a youth that I tried to smuggle in some switchblades from Tijuana and got caught. (The first reminder came in the meeting when a switchblade was pulled to make a point. Yes the scooter industry is that rough.)
A knife like the “fighter plus” really isn’t that dangerous. I mostly used it to clean my toenails. As a weapon it would be pretty harmless, but so are boxcutters. So I was a little nervous when security pulled it out of my bag.
Then the really scary thing about it set in. Security in Salt Lake hadn’t even seen it. They were more concerned with my Snore-No-More and my belt buckle.
So I surrendered the knife and made my way to the gate without further incident. But now I guess I need to buy a proper set of nail clippers. Then again, switchblades are pretty cool. Maybe I should get one of those. Then I could sneak up on my toes like a real thug.