I got called to secondary inspection on my travels through San Jose security today. Hooray! The agent wanted to look at a credit-card sized multi tool I have in my wallet. It’s about 2×3 inches. It’s metal. A screw driver, bottle opener, wrench, you get the idea. It was a Christmas present from my wife. Like one of my favorites because, duh, it’s a tiny, useful tool. I carry it in my wallet – like a credit card. It makes me feel like MacGyver.
Today, it flagged up in the system. Cool, take a look and send me on my way. Wait – what? “I’m sorry, ma’am. This is a blade. You’ll have to check it. ” Try again, I’ve brought that on many a plane and been told it’s fine. She checks with 3 other agents. Nope. It’s a weapon. You’ll have to check it. I have no bag, I explain. Call a supervisor. A supervisor (Lun) comes over and takes a look at the tiny tool with the even tinier “blade” and tells me no.
I explain *loudly* that I cannot check it and I want them to clear it. This is ridiculous. “You want me to call my manager?” Yes, skippy, I do. I’ll wait. I’m pretty sure no one ever waits, but I was early and pissed. Call a manager to talk to me. I’ll wait. They all seem flustered and finally find a phone.
I can tell from the one side of the conversation I can hear that I am being totally blown off. The supervisor hangs up with the “manager” who he calls John, and says, “we cannot clear it.” He’s not even coming down? I ask. He’s too busy, I’m told. With what? Words with friends? Im a passenger with an active issue. No one is being arrested or dragged away. Why can’t manager John come talk to me? Totally unacceptable.
Supervisor Lun tells me to check it, mail it, or surrender it. I can’t check it, and am not willing to surrender it, so I ask Supervisor Lun about mailing it. He is relieved, I can tell, and tells me he will take me to the mailing station. Off we march.
At the mailing station, I fill out the form – including a description of the item, which Lun agrees is a “credit card tool” – and pay $13 to mail it to myself. Lun ushers me through security where I still have to take my shoes off, empty my pockets, remove my laptop, and play is-this-a-man-or-a-woman with the magnetic screening team. They got it wrong. Sigh.
I manage a polite waive to Lun as I trudge off to my plane. He was, as he told me repeatedly, just doing his job. As were many in Nazi Germany, so please avoid this excuse. I mention that some judgement should be allowed the agents. Clearly I am not going to take down a plane with my tiny tool. I might be able to open your beer, or tighten a loose screw in your glasses, but hurt anyone? No.
Meanwhile, someone probably carried on a big ceremonial Mayan knife, or a Kinder Egg. Priorities, people.
I still hate the TSA. Talk about a totally unnecessary evil. It’s Butch to speak out against people “just following orders.” Be Butch.