26 May 2013

Something to Leave Out of Your Carry-On Luggage

I had the most bizarre experience in the airport security line today.

The security guard scanning the carry-on luggage asked to run my laptop bag through the machine a second time, which I thought was a little odd – there was almost nothing in the bag after I took my laptop out.  The second time through, she stopped the bag and hailed another security guard to search it.  She pointed at the screen to show him what to look for, and he nodded and brought the bag over to me.

By this time I was thoroughly confused.  The guard asked if I had anything sharp in the bag that he could cut himself on and I told him no, not to my knowledge – and what a weird question, right?  I’ve never been asked that when my bag’s been searched, before.  He searched through all the main pockets and came up totally empty, as expected, and then went through them again for good measure.  I was getting a little annoyed at his persistent searching. 

But then he turned the bag over, opened the back pocket, and pulled out a 10-inch butcher knife!

Let me tell you, a giant unfamiliar-looking knife is not something you want to see come out of your laptop bag at the airport.  I think my heart stopped.  The guard looked at me like I was crazy and then showed the knife to the first guard and then to another guard and asked if I needed to be brought in for further questioning, and all the while I was blathering that I didn’t know where it came from or how it got in there, and absolutely yes, please go ahead and confiscate it.  The third guard assured me I didn’t need to be interrogated but of course they’d be taking the knife away from me, and to my infinite relief they let me go on my way.

It took me about a half hour of racking my brain after that to piece together a story about the knife.  It looked kind of like a knife from work in Arizona, and it’s possible I put that knife in my laptop bag to keep from stabbing someone on the way to cutting a birthday cake in the lab.  And then I totally forgot about it for many, many months up to and including the moment it got pulled out of my bag by the very worst possible discoverer.  I still don’t particularly recall having done this, but it sounds plausible and almost familiar.

I just want to point out that this means I’ve taken that knife with me on at least one other flight before this one, if not a few more.  I find it a little concerning that it hasn’t been found before now.  But if I could I’d give those guards today a raise.