I'm usually traveling with a variety of items in my carry on. At least a laptop, camera, cellphone, Ipod and electric razor. But guess what? The screeners are never interested in any of these electronic devices. I guess that's a good thing. Yet, in the years since 9/11 I've been forced to surrendered two screwdrivers, several cork screws, scissors, multiple tubes of toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and a very fine Swiss Army knife. Mostly items that I foolishly forgot were in my bags. One time they wanted to confiscate my nail clippers. I asked "what about my nail clippers is illegal." and they said "The inch long pointed file." I didn't argue with them, I simply bent it back and broke it off and put the file-less clippers in my pocket and handed the screener my inch long weapon. I thought to myself - I suppose if a passenger could somehow manage to conceal this piece of metal in the pilot's coffee, maybe he/she could overpower the crew and take over the airplane while the pilot was choking to death. A long shot I know.....
Don't get me wrong, those guys/gals have a tough job to do and they are part of our very short line of defense. And rules are rules! And honestly, most of these rules have evolved from some sort of viable threat. But I still travel with those clippers today and every time I use them I think back on that episode. Even though the rules have changed again for domestic travel, I still haven't replaced those clippers. I've substituted a cardboard Emery board (compliments of some fine hotel) in place of the file.
So anyway, last month as I was headed out to some not so exotic destination, Mr TSA Screener stops me and says- "Is this your bag?" Yes it is Sir - is something wrong? I reply. "We need to run it again." He follows. After the second run he advises me that I have a very long piece of metal in my bag and he wanted to take a look at it. So he opens a side pocket on my bag and pulls out my set of keys. Behold, the very long piece of metal. I instantly prepare for battle thinking - Oh No! He's going to confiscate my keys! He smiles and tells me I should be careful because my key can be mistaken for a weapon. I quickly run through the list of quick and smart come-backs to this remark but decide to keep quiet. After all, I did want to make my flight. I collected my items and moved on.
Later on in the flight I contemplated the necessity of leaving something of significant value behind or losing it all together. What do you do for example if you show up at the airport with the family crested letter opener that's been with your family for two hundred years and Mr. TSA guy says sorry, you can't take this on. If you've allowed yourself enough time for this blunder you can run back and check the item. Or I guess you miss your flight and call your Mother and tell her what a bum you are for not planning ahead. Well, now there's another option. I've learned that at most major airports there is now a service that allows you to mail your item to yourself or arrange for it to be held at the airport until you can pick it up later. All for a fee of course. One of the services is run by CheckPoint Mailers the other company is MailSafe Express. There is usually a kiosk at/near the security checkpoint. Please keep this in mind if you're ever in need. Unfortunately, this service did not help actor Dennis Farina who was charged with a felony after trying to get through security with a loaded gun just last Sunday. When the weapon was discovered at a security checkpoint, the 64-year-old actor reportedly said he had forgotten the .22-caliber handgun was in his luggage. Dennis Farina's latest film, the Ashton Kutcher-Cameron Diaz comedy "What Happens in Vegas," just opened. Farina has starred in TV's "Law & Order" series and is also a former Chicago police officer. A bad way to premier a comedy movie. These types of mistakes are generally reserved for Rappers and Rockers!