Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yet Another Triumphant Return

I recently returned from a couple of weeks of work-related travel. I had a couple of noteworthy experiences on the trip (besides the stuff that I won't be discussing on here for various reasons).

I almost got taken down by airport security at my point of departure. Besides my checked suitcase, I had a carry-on bag. It was a backpack containing my Bible and portable DVD player, and a few other books to occupy me during the trip.

The basket containing my jacket and the stuff out of my pockets passed through the x-ray screening without difficulty, and my own passage through the metal detector was also uneventful. The backpack, however, proved to be a problem. I had to put it on the little conveyor belt, and when I went to meet it on the other side a security guard was waiting for me, already holding it.

"Do you have a multi-tool in here?" he asked, in a pleasant enough tone.

"Nope," I replied confidently.

He smiled, not unkindly. "Are you sure?"

"I was, but I'm getting less sure all the time."

He chuckled, and began unzipping compartments. "Looks like it's way down at the bottom somewhere." After a minute of digging, he produced a multi-tool in its carrying case. It was the one I carried on my belt during my IT days. When I left that job (a diplomatic way of putting it), I stuck the multi-tool into the backpack, which I haul around with me anytime I go anywhere with stuff to carry. I figured that way the multi-tool would always be handy if I was out somewhere and needed it. Of course, I forgot all about it being in there when I was packing for this flight.

"I can assure you that I wasn't trying to smuggle that onto the plane. Feel free to chuck it, or whatever you do with seized contraband."

The security guard was very nice about the whole matter. Instead of just taking it, he asked if somebody had dropped me off at the airport, and if so, whether they were still around. My wife and mother-in-law were just outside the security screening area. I pointed them out, and the guard had someone take it to them. It was waiting safely for me at home when I returned.

Good thing I speak English, or I probably would have died right there, twitching on the airport floor.

Even weirder, the same bag got stopped again by security at the airport for my flight home. Once again I put it dutifully on the conveyor belt. This time, the young lady watching the x-ray monitor (which I couldn't see) stopped the belt and looked at the monitor for a while, clearly puzzled. She was tipping her head to the side, reminding me of my dog's reaction when I used to take my video camera, record myself calling her, and play it back on the living room TV. "Wait... you're on the TV, calling me, but you're sitting over there... but you're on TV... but... now my head hurts. Good thing my walnut-sized brain means I'll forget this in ten seconds, or I'd be traumatized."

The screener lady called a colleague over to join her for some synchronized head-cocking. Eventually they decided to send my backpack to someone else. It came out of the x-ray machine, and was promptly grabbed by a very serious looking guy, who said, "We've got to test this."

"OK", I cheerfully replied. I had lots of time before my flight.

This new guy dug through the bag, and ran a little wand over it. I don't think it was a metal detector. My theory is that it was a dowsing rod, and he suspected that my backpack contained an underground spring. In any case, after a few brow-furrowed moments, he handed me the backpack and said, "OK, you can go." This guy was just gruff enough that I decided not to push my luck by asking any questions. The folks at the first airport, which was much smaller, were a lot friendlier, and they busted me trying to sneak a weapon onto the plane.

It looks like I'll be flying again in October. Perhaps I should invest in some less suspicious carry-on luggage before then.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of the bottom shelf, left-hand side, on bookshelf # 1. On the left are a bunch of records that don't fit on my actual records rack. Most readers under 40 will have no idea what "records" are. In the middle are notebooks and photocopies of textbooks from my university days. Yes, photocopies. I was blatantly disregarding copyrights long before anyone ever heard of Napster. Photocopies were a dime each at the library photocopiers (I liked the unsupervised one in the basement), and reduction allowed two-page spreads to fit onto a single sheet while remaining legible. Even those of us who weren't math majors got pretty good at calculating whether it was cheaper to buy a textbook or just photocopy it. Finally, that pile on the right is what remains of my Rolling Stone magazine collection. I got rid of the vast majority of them long ago.


RebelAngel said...

You are lucky your wife loves you. I have a friend whose wife, standing outside security like that, upon her hubby getting stopped for whatever would have called out, "You didn't tell them about the gun?" Fun times.

Janis said...

Your faithful copy editor here... are you going to erase the apostrophe after the I and before recently? If so, delete this comment. If not, I will continue to annoy you. Unless of course, there is some profound reason for the apostrophe being there; in which case, I will apologize ;)

Zirbert said...

RebelAngel - oh, my wife is normally quite happy to hang me out to dry. However, she restrains herself when felony jail time could be involved. That's the closest we get to "little romantic gestures".

Janis - thanks for the catch! I've fixed it. That apostrophe was a leftover from an earlier version of that sentence. I'm leaving your comment up, as a memorial to my own sloppy proofreading.

And if boneheaded typos are what it takes to get people to post comments, I'm wiling to make them!


Janis said...

Haha, you're so funny... "wiling" to make them. Are you going to start putting them in on purpose just to give me something to do with my days? Of course, I'll be happy to oblige, but I probably should be doing something more constructive with my time. However, I'm a procrastinator at heart so here I am, at your service!

HomeSchooler said...

Ah, Janis... I just had a flashback to college when you did all my editing, and I did most of yours. Usually in the middle of the night, bleary-eyed and half-panicked. Good times!

Zirbert, congratulations on avoiding a long sojourn in Dorchester. Considering one of your former employers it would be rather incongruous if you had been captured with prohibited weapon.

RebelAngel said...

Zirbert...when can we expect another triumphant return?