Tuesday, July 22, 2008

All for a little souvenir

London, San Francisco, Gulf Shores, Pisa and Paris, Ireland, Chicago and now add Seattle...
These cities are always just an outstretched arm away from my sight thanks to an attempt at forming some sort of collection in my teens.

On my last vacation, that collection almost left a bad taste in the mouth of a really pleasant trip. And it was all because of water.

Seemed like a harmless souvenir until I was going through security to catch my flight home from Seattle.

"I'm going to have to look through your bag," the TSA'er told me.

Fine, I thought, look away.

My travel companion, Amy, was the one getting stopped through all of our flights leading up to that point. She looked at me with a big grin on her face -- "Your turn," she said.

Priding myself on my travel skills, I really wasn't worried. I didn't have any sharp objects, all of my toiletries were under the obligatory three-ounce threshold and I didn't even have them with me.

We had taken only carryons on the trip to avoid the drama of checked baggage but were glad to hand those puppies over at 5:30 that morning to lighten our load. Toiletries were checked and I just had a small tote bag with purse essentials, some fragile souvenirs and a book. Check away, check away, I thought.

Then she pulled out my box. She started opening it.

"What's in here?" she asked.

"A snow globe," I answered as innocently as a 5-year-old receiving her first snow globe from a relative's vacation.

"You're going to have to check this bag," the TSA'er informed me.


The x-ray machine guy looks over and says to the girl checking my bag, asking, "Snow globe?"
"Yeah," she replied without even glancing his direction.

It has liquid in it. It was a pretty big snow globe, so, yeah, it has more than three ounces of water in it. I get that, but...


Do I really look smart enough to put something in the liquid in my obviously commercially made snow globe. Seriously. Trust me, it would not have three ounces of water left in it. It would have none! The massive hole would have assured you of that.

"You can't take on any snow globes," she informed me.

Afterward I looked at the TSA Web site and she was right -- no snow globes. But, you have to go all the way to the bottom of the list of what you can/cannot bring, in the OTHER category. There was no way I was ever going to check that far down the list.

So my innocent little collection just became a major hassle.

We were escorted, ESCORTED, out of security, the TSA'er with my bag and my personal belongings in hand because of the "danger."

I had to go back to the ticket line to check another bag. Luckily, Amy had a duffel bag as her carry-on so I stuffed it in there, once we were out of harms way, of course.

Not only that, my innocent (ahem, expensive) snow globe was about to cost me $15 more. I was flying American, the we-charge-you-to-bring-luggage-on-vacation-how-dare-you-take-anything airline.

Except, gasp!

I was surprised to find that I, yes me, yours truly, was actually allowed two (yes like double the amount of one) checked bags for free.


I guess I was flying far enough cross country (oh, just about 1,500 miles) to warrant two pieces of luggage for such a trip. (Let me clarify by saying I'm not sure why I was allowed two, for free, but it may have been that I booked my flight before the surcharges. Not sure)
Did I mention how much I love to fly on American Airlines. Yeah.

So, it took a few minutes but not so bad with the self check-in kiosks.

However, maybe love was a strong word.

"We don't have fragile tags," the AA lady told me as I asked for one for my expensive souvenir.
Well what are the odds that innocent souvenir makes it home in one piece since you won't let me hold on to it, I thought to myself.

If it shatters, I hope a piece of glass stabs the person who threw it ever-so-gently onto the plane. Now that could be dangerous!

Walk away from the desk I told myself ... don't want to be stopped by security outside of the checkpoint, too.

So, luckily the airport was not horribly busy this morning and we went to a new security line quickly.

The same one in fact, but shift change hindered us from chatting up the lady who so graciously insisted on carrying my luggage earlier.

I walk through with a pleasant face, ready to see the other side of the conveyor belts to reach some breakfast. It was early!

Then, some man grabs my bad. NOT AGAIN!

I had some liquids, he said. I was thinking -- you can have the hand sanitizer! Take it!
He tells me he's going to search it and I literally think I said, "have at it" this time.
He pulls out -- my water bottle.

"Take it," I said before he could even ask me.

I put my shoes back on and grabbed my bag, ready to just find my gate and go home.

We start to walk away and I remember why Amy and I are friends, as she says, "The water bottle of liquid was easier and more dangerous for putting liquids in than the snow globe."
The first TSA'er never even touched the water bottle.

I agreed with Amy, she picked the wrong "opportune" object.

I think she just wanted my beautiful snow globe that played music from "The Wizard of Oz" for herself.

She sure did disappear after escorting me out.

No wonder I couldn't get a fragile tag because after that bag hit the conveyor belt, there was nothing fragile in it.

So after the long cross-country flight, we wait for the bags to come through baggage claim. All of the bags are nicely placed in a row on the belt. But I didn't see the duffel bag.

Then, there it was, laying on its end and all scrunched up. I pulled it off the belt and grabbed my box. Of course it was crumpled up. But, luckily, the story has a happy ending. My snow globe was fine and now sits atop my dresser for me to admire the city that I REALLY enjoyed and to remember the craziness I went through to get it home.


Anonymous said...

I remember coming back from Iraq I had to break the file off of my fingernail clippers, but carrying my M4, pistol, bayonet and a large pocket knife on the plane was ok, it seemed pretty strange to me at the time.

Jessica Waldon said...

That is strange, jcoltf. How does that work, I wonder. I suppose the problems with guidelines like this is that it does not allow the individual person (the TSA employee) to use their own rationale to determine what is and is not a possible danger. There's just a list and they just follow it. Maybe the guidelines need to be re-examined.

Anonymous said...

Zero tolerance give zero room for common sense, sort of like kids in schools who wear an NRA t-shirt getting in to trouble because it has a picture of a gun on it, unfortunately in an effort to keep us "safe", craziness has become the norm.

Chrissy said...

Jess, I particularly love the links included. Clicking on them gave me yet another opportunity to laugh out loud. Miss you! Let me know if you're coming to Austin any time soon.

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