Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Trinkets and National Security

One of the fun parts about going to the locksmith convention is getting trinkets; a little like going to Mardi Gras except the women don’t have to bare their breasts and get drunk, or is that get drunk and bare their breasts. I enjoy getting the freebies with advertising stamped on them; the ball point pens, the screw drivers with the magnet on the end, the miniature candy bars, fancy colored lock picks, playing cards and even collector’s edition padlocks ( bet you didn’t even know such a thing existed ).

The problem with all that paraphernalia; it has to pass through the screener’s X-ray machine before boarding an airplane to get home. I went through all the stuff before heading off to the airport and pulled two very nice promotional give away items, retractable box cutters with segmented break away blades. I could imagine spending time in an interrogation room had I left those in the carry on luggage. In a different time, before 9/11, those would have been nice to give away at the locksmith convention; a handy tool for opening boxes of keys, locks and a constant reminder of who gave you that neat toy, the company logo imprinted on the side of the practical little box cutter with a safety cap on the end. What were they thinking?

I plopped it all in the bottom of the canvas sack, again the fancy KABA logo imprinted so I wouldn’t forget who supplied the shopping basket. When we got to the front of the security check point line I placed it all in one of those collection bins along with my iPod, pocket watch, belt buckle and shoes. I enjoy walking in my socks in large crowded places and so I sneak off to the airport every chance I get, a smirk on my face as the cool terrazzo sucks the perspiration from between my toes. There is something seriously wrong with our society when you have to take your shoes off to get on an airplane; my thanks to all the terrorists lurking in the shadows who’ve made this a part of daily life.

“Sir, I’m returning from the Locksmith Convention; just wanted to let you know that some odd looking items might show up on your screen.” I figured it couldn’t hurt, being helpful and pleasant as the odd mix of reflective metals set off the alarms. I was busy putting my belt buckle back on as the screener picked up my small carry on luggage and took it around for a second pass. Three highly trained security experts were studying the screen and pointing to suspicious red flagged items.

“That long one is a Kwikset removal tool”, a neat piece of stamped metal that takes up almost no space in a locksmith’s tool box. It looks a little like a tongue depressor, except on one end the edges are flared so they catch the retainer springs that hold the Kwikset lock cylinder inside the knob housing. They were reviewing the known weapons list furnished by the Homeland Security administrator’s alert department for a match. I don’t think they were listening as they turned my luggage on its side to get a different angle.

“You can open it up and look; really, there’s nothing sinister in there.” I’m sure the rest of the folks waiting to pass through were thrilled at my having so many interesting novelty items. I bet they all read about Rush Limbaugh’s luggage search.

I’m sure they had a good laugh at my collection of lapel pins, some shaped like tiny keys. I have a lamp shade those go on, like bumper stickers on a car or refrigerator magnets; same thing. My lampshade is covered with memorabilia; places I’ve gone, things I’ve been a part of and even my old “PD’s” from when I was a police officer.

The X-ray screener never asked about my brand new 7/11 ice chest full of Bing Cherries and Clark Bars ( Clark Wholesale Locksmith Supply ). That has to be the most efficient Styrofoam chest I’ve ever had. We filled it with the Dr. Pepper, a large sack of cherries, the “give away” candy bars from the “show” and ice early Sunday morning as we checked out of our accommodations.

The temperature in Las Vegas was around 110 all day as we parked the rental car and visited the casinos. The chest was still full of ice when we got to the airport for our “red eye” flight home. The flight attendant lady might have been looking to see if I had any chickens or a loose piglet as she stored the ice chest in the galley; but she smiled and went about the business of boarding the rest of the passengers. Another locksmith convention experience in the books, I can hardly wait for the next one.
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