The Fork

Posted on January 15, 2009

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So I was briefly detained at Heathrow Airport today for accidentally attempting to smuggle a dirty fork onboard my connecting flight to Copenhagen.  It was a minimal hassle, and the security woman was very nice, though she took my fork, but the funny thing about this is that this would have been the 4th flight I have taken with that fork in my carry-on.  I know that to be true because it came from my apartment in Denmark, to which I was returning.  I guess the other airports dismissed the possiblilty that I was out to perform some act of culinary terrorism.  For those of you wondering why I had a fork in my messenger bag, and that is a fair question, the answer is I used it to eat lunch at some point out on the town in CPH, stowed it in a seldom-used pocket in my bag and then forgot about it.  Gross, you may be saying.  Yes.  Sorry.

Anyway, that metal utensil I unwittingly brought into the cabin of three flights, two of them international, could have easily been a knife, which I could have attempted to use for nefarious doings, if I was so inclined.  But this whole thing only reinforces Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in the Atlantic from November, in which he creates fake boarding passes with ease and then smuggles every conceivable red flag item onto commercial airplanes, which caused me to abandon any faith I’d had in the TSA or its international equivalents.  The offensive thing about this, to me, is that when faced with the impossible problem of potential terrorism we have not acknowledged it to be, say, a price we pay for Liberty and Freedom and other capitalized American virtues, but rather installed a massive bureaucratic system that is designed to trick people into thinking they are safe and waste a lot of their time. I find the contempt behind this behavior (the little people can’t handle the truth) pretty disgusting.  And, as a thousand people have said before me, if someone plots another terrible attack on the US there’s not much chance they’d do it exactly the same way it was done over seven years ago.

Also I felt terrible for the very polite new father who was in front of me in the suspicion line, guilty of transporting baby food and one (1) baby, and now being forced to open and taste every single bottle of baby formula, dip a finger into small plastic tubs of strained peas (“Does that taste good?”  “No.”), and finally take an embarrassing swig out of his daughter’s baby bottle.  He handled it like a champ, but come on.

Anyway, enjoy my fork, Heathrow.  May it carry many nourishing meals to the lips of your pilots.

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