Friday, February 5, 2010


What a dreary day, coming from this

to a sleety, soggy St Louis. I took the subway instead of a cab, and walked another 5 blocks in the sleet home. Of course, on the way to Mexico, it seemed like a great idea not to wear/pack/have to lug a winter coat. So it was a little shawl, a 3/4 length top, and gumption, that got me home. But really, it was not all that bad compared to the process of coming home.

Act 1: Weary traveler (WT) in front of me and Security lady (SL) in Cancun have an exchange after WT's purse goes through the xray...
SL: You have scissors in your bag. Show me.
WT: [baffled] I don't have any scissors
SL: [starts digging through purse] You have scissors?
WT: I don't have any scissors
SL: [more digging] Show me the scissors?
WT: I don't have any scissors!
SL: [more digging in other pockets--how many pockets are in this purse OMG!!?!] You have scissors in your bag
WT: I really don't have any scissors!!
SL: You have scissors
WT: I don't have scissors. You can just dump it all out, really, I don't have any scissors.
ad nauseum, with more digging around in a Mary Poppins'-level complex purse with multiple pockets and zippered compartments and tunnels...
At last, SL finds something that looks like it has scissor handles but is clearly NOT scissors.
SL: [smugly] You have scissors!
WT: [blushing] Oh, I forgot about those, those are toenail clippers, for my cat
SL: You can't take scissors on the plane
WT: They're not scissors! They're tonail clippers.
SL: You have scissors!
WT: Fine, I don't want them anyway, you can take them.
SL super-smugly throws "scissors" into trash bin. WT walks away, crying silently inside about her cat's untrimmed toenails.

Act 2: The plastic bin with my purse has also been set aside for extra scrutiny.
SL: You have knitting needles?
Me: Yes! [Why am I so stupid thinking that she is expressing interest in hobbies and not about to do a horrible, heart-wrenching thing?]
SL: Ok, show me. [Btw, this lady needs to move to Missouri, with all her "show me's"]
Me: [Pulling out an almost-finished Aphrodite in ziploc bag] Here it is, see?
SL: You can't take knitting needles.
Me: [On the inside yelling "$%^&*()(*&^%$%^&!!!!!" but on the outside very calm and cooperative] Really?
SL: [Pulling the shawl out, dragging the yarn everywhere, and pulling out the impossible-to-find teeny-tiny crochet hook too] You can't take knitting needles.
Me: [Scared shitless because I don't want to go to Guantanamo or some mexican prison because of knitting. Thank god the last row was an all-knit row, so the loose stitches will be easy to pick up.] Ok. I can take it off the needles. [I start sliding the stitches off the very nice Addi circs that are supposed to last a lifetime if you take good care of them. Still cursing up a storm inside, I sense this is not an appropriate time to instruct someone about the difference between knitting and crochet needles.]
SL: [decides this is going to be too slow, or is just not awful enough] Wait...
Me: [with hope--stupid stupid!] What? Ok.
SL: [Walks over to giant trash bin, retrieves cat-toe-nail clippers, walks back, and makes two quick snips.] You can't take knitting needles. [Takes the two cut-off Addis, teeny crochet hook, a now-very-useful toenail-clipper, and tosses them all into the trash.]

I don't think I said anything after that. Poor needles:

Act 3: We use up remaining pesos at the duty-free shop to buy 2 wee bottles of hot sauce. We are livin' wiiiiild! Flight #1 into Texas is uneventful. We are given suspicious looks because apparently DH doesn't look enough like his passport photo, then we are waved through. Then we get all nervous because hot sauce might be "plant materials" that are contraband. With thudding hearts, we declare our purchases. Whew! Hooray! Hot sauce is a-ok!

But lo and behold--we get to go through security again! Thank goodness we didn't check bags, because it would take forever to retrieve and re-check them. Or so we think. Apparently, not checking bags makes one get singled out for a security nightmare. The fact that I am a tiny female goody two shoes with no interest in violence, drugs, or breaking any rules at all (except using dangerous pointy sticks, such as knitting needles and pencils), doesn't outweigh the giant neon sign on my forehead saying "GUILTY" visible only to airport security people. My backpack sets off some sort of chemical voodoo alert, and we are taken aside for questioning and search. The Texan security guard takes every single item out and wipes everything and the inside of the bag with several wet-nap sort of things. All the wet naps go into a special machine, sort of like a fancy diaper genie thing, and it beeps. So now he really starts digging through, making quasi-jokes about explosives, asking if we have been near pesticide. We walked through jungly areas at Mayan ruins, but hopefully there wasn't any pesticide there, 'cause that would be sad. A banana did get squashed in the bag, and we faithfully report this, but he tells us that wouldn't cause the chemical smackdown alert. He keeps asking about pesticide, as though if he asks one more time we'll remember how the other day we went on the excursion to coca fields, along with this exact backpack.

We foolishly, foolishly bought a coffee mug, which was wrapped by the shopkeeper with newspaper and a ton of tape. This is a source of much suspicion. He unwraps the whole thing, inspects the mug, the newspaper, the tape, while looking at us like evil pesticide-explosive-smugglers. He has obviously never sold tchotkes, because he can't re-wrap the cup. We helpfully say that he can throw out the newspaper-tape bundle, to which he replies that he can't because it might be explosive, as well as the cup. (Apparently it is ok to take the possibly-explosive cup/wrapping onto the plane!) And I jokingly observe aloud the ridiculousness of the notion of my learning to pot, so I can make a single explosive coffee mug. ^&*^%$^&%!! I kick myself inside, because I used the word "pot," and now he is looking at all the other contents of the bag with even more vigor. He opens the DVD case for Dewey Cox. He unfurls the inflatable travel neck pillow. He flips through the 2 books borrowed from the St Louis library. He looks at the bajillion power cords and cables we brought, and wipes each one again with the magical wet-nap of doom. He feels up the backpack and every layer of fabric within it. I start to make a joke about this but then decide there has been enough joking for the day, and just silently thank the stars that I'm not transporting pesticide or explosive mugs, or dirty underwear. Then there is a pat-down for each of us because the machine beeped earlier. Human contact is great and all, but a pat-down at the airport is not very nice. Finally, at last, we are cleared of suspicion of transporting pesticides or bombs (and why would they set off the same alarm anyway? I am so going organic all the way now), and run to catch flight #2.

Flight #2 was boring, because one can't knit without needles. As the plane descends, the clouds reach all the way to the ground, and wet snow swirls everywhere, but it all doesn't seem so bad to have to trudge through the shittiness, after almost going to jail twice today. So until the next trip...I'm never traveling again!

That's the long story about why Aphrodite isn't done yet. Next time, happy pictures from Mexico!


Thea said...

that sucks! But I'm guessing your time in Mexico was worth it. I loooove Tulum and the whole Yucatan coast -- hope you did too. said...

I have never been there and after all of that (I have a harder time keeping my big trap shut) I will never go!

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry! That is straight out of a nightmare. I can't say I would have reacted as well as you to watching someone *cut* apart my Addi turbos. But at least it wasn't a set of their interchangeables...

Hopefully you'll be able to forget the trauma of coming home and ONLY remember the vacation that preceded it!

betty said...

Were you on a U.S. airline? TSA allows knitting needles and always has.

emicat said...

I know that even if the TSA allows needles, there's also discretion allowed by the inspector whether they let you on with the needles or not. My poor dear, having to watch someone snip off off the tips of your Addis. I feel for ya!

Glad you're back, but what an ordeal for the way back home. Here's hoping I don't have to go through all that when I go to Vegas very soon.

Sereknitty said...

Yikes! What a nightmare! We'll have a moment's silence on behalf of your Addi's ... I have a set of Denise plastic interchangeables that I use when I'm travelling and have yet to have a problem ... touch wood.

Julie said...

ugh, that is so awful!! I just flew to and from Chicago last weekend, with knitting needles (two sets of circulars) in my purse, and no questions. Some people are just mean and don't understand.

p.s.- I have never understood why nail clippers aren't allowed. In what universe is it possible to effectively kill or horribly maim someone with nail clippers?

Karen said...

I fly round trip about every other weekend and my bags get searched regularly. No one's ever batted an eye at my needles or hooks (metal, plastic or bamboo), but the rules are completely different for US travel as opposed to going into/out of the country. Sucks that they destroyed your needles!

In case anyone's curious, too many books in your bag will trigger a search since they're too thick to see through well even with x-ray apparently. heh