Pin the flag on the donkey
Wednesday October 29th 2008, 1:25 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

As I mentally pack for my trip before starting the actual packing:Gram\'s flag pin

I inherited this pin from my grandmother. I was startled to see Gov. Palin wearing a replica of it at one point, but I guess it means she can’t tell me I’m not a real American; I’ve got the jewelry to prove my bona fides.  Heh. (What did they do, hand these out at a Republican convention once? I’d love to know the story behind this. Mom? Uncle Bob?)

My late grandfather, as I’ve mentioned before, was a Republican senator, and he amassed an eclectic collection of elephants over his 24 years in office.  When he passed away at 95, each of his grandchildren was told to pick one out and take it home.  I chose a small mostly-roundish handblown lead crystal one, beautifully crafted; note that the tip of its trunk is 4″ high and the little thing weighs over 10 ounces.

Grampa\'s crystal elephantI wrapped it carefully in my knitting that morning to cushion it from harm.  And late in the day, heading for the airport, totally forgot it was in there.

My knitting was of course in my carry-on bag for my flight home; I would never trust my projects to baggage handlers, much less fly without something to occupy me.

This was before 9/11.  The airport screener ran my bag through and freaked, and I thought oh crud: I brought those because they’re not my favorite needles, but I should have remembered they were metal. I tried to reassure her: “It’s just knitting needles.”  She shot me a look of oh you drop dead! that I thought was totally uncalled for, and in her panic, dropped everything and ran for the manager.

Leaving me with free access before me should I happen to care to nonchalantly pick up my bag and stroll away whistling.  Which of course I wasn’t about to do, but…

The manager and the screener came running back.  They started throwing everything out of my bag onto the conveyor helter-skelter.  Given that I was only flying in and back for an overnighter, everything, actually, was in that carry-on, including my underwear, being shaken out and thrown aside during their search.  Thanks, guys.

Then the screener saw the elephant.  She suddenly knew.  It had looked exactly on the screen how she’d been trained to see that a bomb would.  She screeched in relief, grabbing it and holding it high for all the other screeners and the manager to see, starting to sob in relief.

While everybody behind me in line waited for me to repack my delicates.  Joy.

During the flight afterwards, I dropped one of my straights as I was changing rows and it instantly rolled somewhere far behind me in the ascending plane. I never saw it again.

And I never knitted with metal straights again.  Enough was enough.

14 Comments so far
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Funny story. My girlfriend, who’s hubby was civil service for the Air Force packed his favorite Easter treat into his bag without his knowledge. He got much the same reaction when they dug out his pair of foil covered Cadbury egss! He had a stern word for her about surprises in his bags…

Comment by Ruth 10.29.08 @ 7:07 pm

don’t carry a jar of local honey back with you either – it is the same on the screen as explosives too …..

Comment by rho1640 10.29.08 @ 7:52 pm

Whoa, what an ordeal. Who knew glass items pose as bombs? Thank you for the flying tip. I may drive all the way to Texas next month after hearing that.

Comment by Toni Smoky-Mountains 10.30.08 @ 4:59 am

bamboo circulars for me. Or small bamboo sock needles. Never had a problem, even 3 weeks after 9/11 flying from Toronto to Florida. Figers crossed this continues – I hate not knitting on planes…

Comment by Sandra 10.30.08 @ 5:39 am

Ow. I got dinged a couple of years ago because I had (at the last minute) dropped the little first-aid kit that I take hiking in my bag (I was on my way to Banff for a wedding and planned to do some hiking in my spare time). My bitty two-inch (blunt!) scissors for cutting adhesive were confiscated and I was Spoken To Sternly.

Of course I absentmindedly flew to England the following year with a baby blanket on sixteen inch aluminum straights (#6) and nobody so much as blinked an eye. It didn’t even occur to me until I got home that that probably hadn’t been a good idea. These days I’m much better about taking either my bamboo circular or my bamboo sock dpns if I’m flying.

Comment by RobinH 10.30.08 @ 5:42 am

I had the same issue with a lead-crystal paperweight in my carryon a few years ago. It’s the lead in the crystal that makes it turn out absolutely opaque on the screens. I had no idea either, until the screener explained it to me.

Comment by Margo Lynn 10.30.08 @ 5:43 am

Once upon a time, I had one of those pins, too. Airport, D.C.: I had fallen and broken my arm, not badly, but was in a metal splint. I offered to take it off when I got to the screener; they told me to leave it on. Of course, the “thing” screamed and I ended up having to take off splint, shoes, and I don’t remember what else–after being escorted to a special area for additional screening. I told them! And the knitting needles were safely ensconced in the checked luggage. LOL.

Comment by sherry in idaho 10.30.08 @ 6:55 am

I also have one of those pins. I treasure it.

I did notice Gov. Palin’s pin the other day. Quite large so you couldn’t miss it on TV.

As for traveling with needles, whenver possible I try to use my ciruculars. Magic Loop on socks, etc. I’ve lost too many needles.

Great story on the elephant. The elephant’s trunk up high is suppose to bring good luck.

Comment by Joansie 10.30.08 @ 7:18 am

I hope they never catch on that a circular needle could make a fine garrote.
Of course, this means I’d be armed against any non-knitting terrorists on board.

Comment by Diana 10.30.08 @ 7:58 am

Ha! That was a cute story. Glad the elephant survived the grand adventure.

Comment by Channon 10.30.08 @ 8:57 am

My airport security story is significantly pre-0/11. (The baby involved just turned 13.) I had to leave a nursing baby for three days. She was eating a wide variety of food, but I wasn’t ready to wean her yet, so I brought along a breast pump. Well, the security officer looked at it–batteries, wires, etc, and asked me to open my bag. I did, and he demanded, “What IS this?” At the same time, his female counterpart asked sweetly, “So, how old is your baby?” Of course, many of us know that a breast pump is a torture device, but only to the user.

Comment by Laura 10.30.08 @ 11:19 am

Oy. I can see where you’d stick with wooden circs from then on! I’m glad they didn’t break the “bomb” 😉

Comment by Jocelyn 10.30.08 @ 12:07 pm

Good taste on the elephant! I thought it looked like Steuben.

Comment by Debby 10.30.08 @ 3:15 pm

Love the excittemnet and the elephant is a cutie;)Hugs Darcy

Comment by Darcy 10.31.08 @ 12:47 am

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