Evie is an aeorspace engineer and will blog about current events in various fields including but not limited to: Space, Astronomy, Genetics, Biology, Green Energy, Neuroscience, Physics, Quantum Physics, Evolution, Environmental issues, Engineering.. Pretty much anything and everything that catches her eye. Stay tuned! Thoughts, comments, requests – always welcomed!
My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.
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Back in my early days of college I was in a long distance relationship. Yes, we were silly, young, in love.. Aww how sweet.. (I think I'm gonna hurl).
We were also broke college kids who worked really hard and scrounged up everything we could to pay for plane tickets. I was always on the lookout for cheap last minute flights. I was living in Gainesville, Florida at the time.
Not exactly a major airline hub, to say the least. The closest major airports were Jacksonville and Orlando, which were each about a 2-2.5 hour drive, plus parking, gas, the occasional speeding ticket.. you get the picture.
You can imagine my excitement when I awoke one morning to find an incredible super cheap flight offer in my inbox. And it was out of the Gainesville airport no less
Like I said I was a broke college kid living in a low tech apartment. No washer dryer, no dish washer, that type of thing. Great place though, I loved living there. When I packed my bag, I decided to just throw all my dirty clothes in a huge trash bag thinking I'd just wash it at the house where my bf at the time was living. No big.
Before I could leave, I had some unfinished homework to do and drop off. I hauled ass to campus to do that, and made some quick photocopies at the library while I was there. After that, headed back to my place to pack up my carryon and head out! I figured I'd have some time to do homework on the plane.
Being an Engineering student, I didn't have any paperback/small books I could take, so I opted for my big messenger type book bag that I hadn't used in a long time, but found under my bed! Yay! I threw my Thermodynamics book in there, Circuits book, Fluid Mechanics, those photocopied (and now crumpled) papers I got at the library, my trusty TI-89 calculator, spare batteries, along with plenty of the green graph paper, pencils, eraser.. the works.
Now this was before cell phones were as widely popular as they are today, and I did not have one. I should add this was also post 9/11, when security got beefed up (or.. pretended to..) and I do not have an 'American friendly' sounding name, meaning I am, in fact, a danger to myself and others when on an airplane, according to the TSA
The Gainesville airport is on the small side. I mean it's not a hut like the one at the Bahamas or Cayman Islands, but it's pretty damn small. As I walked in I could sense the presence of the 'extra security' staring me down already. A bunch of big scary looking army dudes with big guns and M16s..
I proceeded on my way. Walked over to check my bag, and was asked to open it so they could go through it. No X-Ray machines. I told the lady "listen, there's a huge garbage bag of dirty laundry in there.. I don't think you wanna go through that.." She looked at me with a disapproving eye.
The combination of my dirty laundry filled duffle bag, and my favorite shirt which I happened to be wearing that boldly stated 'FUCK OFF!' on the front, were just too much for her. She stared at me for a couple of minutes and opted to just let me and my bag go.
Sweet. All checked in. I had some free time so I decided to walk on over to the payphone - I say 'the', 'cause there was only one that worked - and call the boy. Voicemail. Fiiiiine. I'll just go sit down and read one of my many school books, I thought to myself.
About 15 min later, the phone rang. The payphone. The one and only working payphone. Everyone stopped, looked around not knowing what to do. 'Oh shit!' I said a lil too loudly, grabbed my shit and ran over there.
Yup, it was for me. The boy returned my call. I could feel the disapproving eyes from all directions now grow even more disapproving.
To recap, so far we've got girl with 'FUCK OFF' shirt, dirty laundry, and foreign sounding name, getting a suspicious phone call at a random airport pay phone. Hmm..
After a short chat I decided to walk over and go through security. Yea, there was no line. And yet there were a dozen workers just hanging around 'securing' the perimeter. I walked through, the buzzers went off. Oh right.. I forgot, I was wearing my airplane-seat-belt belt. Hehe.. I love that thing.. Ok, took that off and went through again. I was good on the 2nd try. The disapproving eye still watching.
My carryon bag went through. They stopped it. They examined it closely. Couldn't figure out what they were seeing, so they called for backup. Now 5 of them were studying the screen. I had no idea what they were looking at. Remember, this was a bag I hadn't used in a while, it had been shoved under my bed till that morning.
They asked me if I had any suspicious objects with me, I said "Noway!" then they asked to open the bag and take everything out.
They took out the Thermodynamics book, with a picture of what looks like a bomb on the cover, the circuits book, which really was no better, the fluid mechanics book.. that one had a picture of a racecar on it, so I think I was ok there.
By this point, I was generating more interest, those big army dudes approached, they wanted to be part of the party too.
Oh yea, and did I mention those photocopied papers from before, the now crumpled ones were in Hebrew..? Yea.. I needed some stupid humanities credits, so I took this easy A class, Hebrew literature. There was only one other kid with me, us and the teacher were all Israeli. Teacher dude was an author, so we just read his stuff and talked about it, wrote up some papers.. But I digress, point being, to the untrained eye, Hebrew looks like a dangerous language.
My situation was getting worse by the millisecond. The lady who kept feeling around my bag but not finding anything asked me "Is there a secret compartment in this bag?" I had no idea what she was talking about. Finally she opened an inner compartment with Velcro at the top, I guess that's what she meant by 'secret'.
She found what she was looking for all right. It was bad. No, it was worse than bad. In one hand she scooped out an entire handful of loose wires, LEDs, a breadboard, alligator clips, a fucking hand full of em!
In the other hand she felt something far more sinister. She looked me straight in the eye, dropped the wires on the desk, and reached that hand back into the 'secret' compartment.
She then proceeded to pull out an 8'' butterfly knife. She opened it. Held it with just her finger tips between both hands and with the thickest southern accent said "Oh Loooord!!" ... yea.... I forgot I had that in there.. It was all my old gear from circuits lab.. the knife was so dull it could barely strip the wires, which is what I used it for.. Ehhhh.. this was a no bueno scenario... I could see the army dudes now grab their weapons as they stepped towards me.
My first thought was of course, I am not getting on this plane. My next thought was, I am going to jail. I looked at the lady and said "It's from my circuits lab class, I totally forgot that was in here", she gave me a perplexed look and said "Circuits Laaaaaaaab?" I turned around thinking I was gonna get handcuffed. But no, who would have guessed, the disapproving eye lady from before came to my rescue!
She said her granddaughter was an Engineering student too, Electrical, and she had seen that stuff before. Gainesville being a college town and all, it was plausible..
Disapproving eye lady even said she'd put the knife in an envelope for me, so I could mail it to myself. She even paid for the postage herself!
They wouldn't let me go to my car to drop it off, but that's ok! I didn't care, I was NOT going to jail AND I was getting on that plane! I was a VERY happy camper.
Funny part is, they let me keep all my lab gear and take it on board with me. I did not think that was allowed.
Needless to say I was now a 'suspicious' passenger, so they kept a close eye on me. I mean, how could they not, there were 3 seats and a distance of about 5 feet between them, the chairs and the door to the runway. I say runway, 'cause there is no jetway or walkway, it's a tiny place, with tiny planes.
When it was time for me to board, a whole 10 minutes after my lil incident, they had to go through all my shit once more before I could set foot on the plane, just in case I snuck in another knife while they were watching..
Sooo yea, that was exciting. I can wholeheartedly say that I do not recommend this method of travel to anyone. I highly suggest you do not travel with a bag that may contain stuff that is unbeknownst to you.
I gotta say, overall those peeps were super nice to me, and most importantly they did not throw me in jail, so they rock!
*I would like to note that this is not representative of how my flights usually go. I have been on hundreds of flights throughout my life, and this was definitely the only time I was caught trying to smuggle wires and a knife onboard*
**Also, that envelope containing the knife that disapproving eye lady mailed, eventually did make it back to my residence.**
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