My shoes are off, belt tucked into a plastic tub, laptop out of its case, boarding pass in hand, liquids in 3oz-or-smaller containers packed into one plastic quart bag, pockets emptied.
The metal detector brings no beep as I pass through, and I wait on the ‘secure’ side of the airport for my carry-on bags to join me.
But there seems to be a slight problem. The x-ray machine’s conveyor belt has stopped with my backpack inside. Ms. TSA looks concerned, and she waves another security officer over for a second opinion. And then another. And another. Soon there are no less than seven uniformed officers standing around, whispering, and inspecting the glowing contents of my luggage on the monitor.
Fellow passengers start to notice the hold up and make nervous, shoeless jokes about my criminal nature, carefully avoiding the dreaded ‘b’ word as they quickly grab their cameras and cellphones and shuffle off.
What contraband have I absentmindedly left in the pockets of my pack? Did I bring nail clippers with the tiny file? Tweezers? Four-inch scissors? Knitting needles?
“No,” says the female security agent blocking my escape route, “We actually allow all of those things on board now.”
What can it be?
Have they noticed the extra ounce in the four-ounce travel size container of contact lens solution in my Ziploc bag? It isn’t my fault that the miniature toiletry industry hasn’t caught up with flight security regulations.
Nope, the quart bag has gone through unscathed.
What heinous item is in my backpack? What banned object of mine could possibly be attracting the attention of the entire security force of Gate A18?
And then it dawned on me. The source of the brou-ha-ha.
“Oh, I know what you are looking at, just take it, I’m sorry!” I announce trying to look as innocent as possible. “I didn’t think about it…I just threw it in my bag this morning.”
Stern looks from seven TSA agents fall in my direction.
“We should be notifying the Port Authority and having you arrested. What you tried to bring on through security is highly illegal. You are lucky we are not calling the police department.”
So what was the offending object in my pack?
An inch-long silver charm on a necklace, a shiny metal revolver.
“Replicas of weapons are not allowed on aircrafts.”
My necklace goes in the trash.
I do not argue. I do not point out that the book I brought to read during my flight has not one but two samurai swords on the cover or that my black raspberry earrings definitely resemble grenades. I do not share my observation that my pen or mascara wand for that matter could do more damage as a weapon than a one-inch charm. I do not ask to see the applicable law regarding acceptable jewelry design on domestic flights. I just want to get on my plane, so I nod in agreement, say ‘thank you, ma’am’, put on my belt and shoes, and walk away.
I’m one necklace poorer, but perhaps it’s a small price to pay to keep the skies safe from the dangers of dangling things, the menace of metal charms, the threat of trinket terrorism. With the confiscation of a tiny sterling silver revolver, the world has become just a little bit more secure. One inch more secure.
Now don’t you feel safe?