Thirteen years ago, we went on a family vacation to Switzerland, and while I there I picked up 2 things. Number One? My first pack of cigarettes. At 15, on my own in the Alps and feeling very continental, I decided now was my big chance to look cool and start smoking. Having no idea what to purchase, I went for the most recognizable; Marlboro Reds. I’m amazed I didn’t grow hair on my chest from smoking that shit.
And my second Swiss souvenir? In walking along the shops with my then 10 year old brother, we passed a store that sold every imaginable Swiss Army knife. There in the window, I spotted a teeny, tiny pink one and oohed and ahhed over it. A mini Swiss Army knife? In pink? From Switzerland? I had to have it.
But alas, the folks were gone and I was out of cash. Alex and I moved on. The next day, my little blonde brother returned to our hotel room to find me on the balcony smoking Marlboro Reds. He marched right up to me and handed me a bag.
That little 10 year old light of my life had used all of his francs or marks or whatever Swiss money is, and bought me that mini pink Swiss Army knife.
And that little pink knife has been attached to my keys for the last 13 years. I’ve traveled everywhere with it; third world countries, through customs, literally everywhere I go. And every time I remember it sitting at the bottom of my bag as I go through airport security, I get a little nervous. But nothing’s ever happened.
Monday morning, I arose hungover and in no mood to maneuver the Denver airport, packed with holiday travelers and accompanied by my chatty, chirpy parents. We piled in with the masses and got in the security maze, zig-zagging back and forth, back and forth until coming to the metal detectors. I pulled off my jacket, handbag and shoes and passed through the detector.
“You’re big earrings, ma’am.”
Excuse me? These are pounded sterling and divine.
I passed through again, this time free of fabulous accessories, and was cleared. A gentleman named “Randy” with a handlebar mustache peered at the x-ray screen, clearly focused on the contents of my handbag.
“Is this you’re bag, ma’am.”
Well obviously. Look at me? Does anyone else here look capable of selecting such a realistic Michael Kors knock-off? Not unless it comes in a fanny pack, apparently.
“Yeah, that’s my bag.”
“And where are your keys located?”
“At the bottom of my bag. I’ll get them.” I said, reaching for my precious purse.
“Don’t touch the bag, ma’am. Just describe for me where the keys are.”
“Okay. They’re flying around the bottom of my bag with 6 month old receipts and pens I stole from the hotel.”
He digs around my bag, carefully examining my lip gloss and emergency back-up tampons. Then he finds my keys, pulling them from my bag as if they were hazardous materials. With the cruelty of someone who obviously knew the sentimental value of my Swiss Army knife, he unwound it from the keychain. “Well, you can keep your keys and your Skyy vodka keychain. But this KNIFE isn’t getting on an aircraft.”
I took a deep breath as my eyes welled with tears.
“Are you kidding me?”
“No, ma’am. I’m not. You can’t bring KNIVES on the airplane.”
This was clearly not the time to point out that me and my faux Michael Kors were hardly likely to hijack a DC-10 with a pink Swiss Army knife smaller than my pinkie finger. And I could tell from his handlebar that Randy wasn’t going to budge on this one. Randy is the kind of security guard that can’t wait to thwart terrorists at any cost. Randy is the kind of security guard that is convinced soccer moms will hide bombs in baby strollers. Randy is waiting to be personally responsible for saving lives. Even on an 11:20 flight from Denver to SFO.
“I will never forgive you, Randy.”
He chuckled, confident in the knowledge that he had solely halted an act of terrorism. My mother, having watched the whole debacle came over as I put on my shoes. “Are you serious? This is bullshit, Beth.”
“I know. I’m so pissed off I can’t talk about it.”
My father, ever oblivious and highly paranoid about airport security, came over. “WHAT HAPPENED???”
“Dick, leave her alone.”
“They took my little pink Swiss Army knife.”
“You brought a KNIFE to the airport?!?”
“Well, that was stupid.”
“One more word, Daddy and I will kill you. I will honestly and truly kill you.”
“She’s brought that with here everywhere. Literally everywhere.”
“Yeah.” I lamented. “That was one well-traveled little pink knife. And I never even opened the knife. I just used those tiny little scissors on it.”
“Don’t worry, Bethy.” My mother patted me on the back. “We’ll find another one.”
“Great. Then go back in time, make Alex 10, refresh his awe and adoration of his older sister and have him buy it for me.”
We got on the tram to take us to Terminal B as mom rummaged through her bag.
“Oh my god.” She said, as she looked up wide-eyed at Dad and me.
From her shoulder bag, she pulled a large pair of scissors, approximately 1 billion times the size of my KNIFE.
Nice work, Randy.
I need a Marlboro Red…