Thursday, December 9, 2010
I'm pretty sure there was some kind of mix-up somewhere. I'm also pretty sure I'm on some kind of no-fly list now.
It wouldn't be the first time. Quickly Sherman, set the WABAC machine for San Francisco International Airport circa 1980...
I was changing planes from Seattle to Dallas and had a 5 hour layover. Funtimes. I called my former D.I. (BM1 Diekel) and caught up on old times in. The remaining 4 hours and 59 minutes decided to spend at the nearest airport bar.
After a couple hours recharging and living the hip jet set San Fran bar scene I hear "Will American Airlines Airlines passenger "Blank" please pick up the white courtesy phone. Hey, that's me! Excuse me ladies, VIP duty calls. (I am so in when I get back)
I find the nearest bank of courtesy phones (for those of you unfamiliar with the concept, way back in the day they had in-house phones distinguished by color next to the payphones.) and as soon as I touched the white phone I was tackled by an airport SWAT team and whisked off to an indiscriminate windowless nearby room.
NOBODY expects The Spanish Inquisition!
Suddenly, I sat face to face across a 4 x 4 table from Federal Special Agent Testosterone and he's holding a surgical steel blade hunting knife I had packed away in my seabag.
Remember this is 1980, not 2008. There was no TSA then. This was long before 9/11.
I'm introduced to (we'll call him) Agent Van Alden.. He takes my knife out and starts playing with it in front of me acting out some Michael Crichton story in his mind. It was like living in a live episode of American Dad 25 years before it was created.
"Where did you get the weapon?"
"Bought it at my ship's store."
"Why do you need the weapon?"
"You never know when you will need it. Semper Paratus."
"Why was I carrying a weapon?"
"I'm on leave and I'm not leaving my valuables behind in my locker."
"But why would I carry a weapon on the plane?"
"OK, you busted me. I packed a knife with my military uniforms into my seabag with my name on it and sent it thru checked luggage so it could be X-Rayed and mixed up with all the other luggage. Then, in midflight I'm going to claw my way thru the cabin floor with my bare hands and make my way into the cargo area undetected. There in the dark I'll find my seabag, unlock the Master lock, retrieve my knife, crawl back up thru the floor undetected and hijack the plane."
After quizzing me for another 20 minutes and confirming my identity as a member of the armed forces, Agent Van Alden finally allowed me to continue on my flight. But to do so I had to take my knife and put it in an envelope with my name on it. I put that envelope in a box and put my name on it. I took that box and put it in another box with my name on it. That box went into yet another larger box with my name on it.
A Russian nesting doll scenario if you will.
I then had to wrap the box with red striped tape.
I was free to go, but it was clear Van Alden and I were operating on very different agendas.
Boris Badenoff ain't got squat on me! I didn't make any friends in the Air Marshals. But, I thanked Agent Van Alden for making it much easier for me to locate my knife midflight in the dark now.