gwen petersen
Big timber, mont.

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June 16, 2014
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Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 6-16-14

The trouble started when I packed a suitcase for a plane trip. I may be on a government list somewhere ... possibly as an old lady terrorist. Not having traveled via plane for some time, I hadn’t considered the precautionary routines intended to keep the country safe from terrorists — such as I. Into the side pouch of my suitcase, I tossed the usual jeans-pocket hardware that I carry around the ranch. In left pocket: Money clip (usually empty), coins, cell phone and the occasional mystery item. In right hand pocket: Tape measure, folding scissors, fingernail clipper and my all purpose Swiss Army knife which has two blades (a long one and a short one), a screwdriver (standard tip), a screwdriver (Phillips head), a leather-punch, a bottle opener, a toothpick and a tweezer.

“No, no!” protested my friend and traveling companion. “You can’t put metal objects in your carry-on luggage!”

“But,” I countered, “what if I have to measure something or fix a bathroom-stall door?”

“Fix a door?”

“Yeah, just yesterday, I made a pit stop in town at the hotel. The metal plate holding the bolt lock on the stall door was loose. The screw was about to drop out, so I used my Phillips-head driver to tighten it up. I’m real handy that way ...”

My friend was not amused. “Do not,” she insisted, “put anything metal in your case or they’ll take it away from you.”

Dutifully, I complied with her directives ... I thought ...

At the airport, I skated through security. I stepped into a clear plastic people-tall tube, stepped onto the foot outlines painted on the floor and, per instruction, lifted my hands straight up over my head — as if pleading with the Gods of Flight. One side of the tube slid — swoosh! — around me and swooshed back. For a moment I wondered if I was going to find out where Scotty went when they beamed him up. Was the swoosher thing X-raying my person? I don’t really know; I do know I don’t look good naked anymore, so hope no actual photographing of my form took place. Apparently I was good to go. I boarded the plane, no problem.

On arrival at our destination, my friend and I checked in to a hotel. In my room, I unpacked my suitcase and there from the side pouch of my suitcase emerged my Swiss Army knife and my folding scissors. Oh, dear. How did that happen ... I thought I’d removed the metal stuff. Apparently the knife had burrowed into the edge seam of the suitcase’s outer side pocket. I felt around. Seemed to be a sort of trough just wide enough for that knife to hide in. Ditto the folding scissors.

Well, hey, I thought. I’ll just poke ’em back in that same seam/trough for the flight home. The searchers missed finding them the first time; maybe my luck would hold. (Which is an example of my faultless logic).

At the airport on the return flight, the disdainful look on the searcher’s face was priceless as she drew forth my Swiss Army. She held it in the tips of her fingers as if fearful it would bite.

“Oh, dear,” I said. “Well, you can just mail it back to me.” She said nothing, just sadly shook her head. And waited, staring at me, her expression a combination of disgust and pity.

I sighed. Then I waved and said, “Goodbye little knife. You’ve been a good and faithful companion for 30 years. But I must leave you now to your fate ...” It was a poignant moment made more so by the fact that all this while, I was seated in a wheel chair.

Confiscating my knife has made the world a safer place. No need to thank me. However, if you see an elderly woman in a wheelchair in an airport, beware. It might be me and I have another Swiss Army knife.

(P.S. The folding scissors made it home — undetected). ❖


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The Fence Post Updated Jun 12, 2014 11:51AM Published Jul 8, 2014 12:03PM Copyright 2014 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.