Friday, August 1, 2008

*Unbelievable III* (a wrench in things)

This morning when I was trying to catch my flight back east I had a little altercation with the TSA—sadly not my first—and almost missed my flight. I want to let everyone know—who like myself, hasn't read and memorized the list of all 347 prohibited items on the TSA website—that any tool over 7 inches in length is not allowed in your carry-on. Even if it's just barely over 7 inches. Even if it's less dangerous than a 6.99 inch screw driver, which happens to be allowed.

The TSA are robots, trained to respond to all situations in a scripted manor without any use of judgement, common sense, or rationalization. After speaking with three different agents(one who was a supervisor) and being informed three times of all of my options (none of which were viable), I told them to just keep the wrench so I could catch my flight. They promptly stopped me and asked, "Sir, are you voluntarily surrendering the item?" No, I'm not. You guys are confiscating it. I don't want to give it to you. It's mine. It's not dangerous. I need it to put my bike together when I arrive at my destination. There is nothing voluntary about this situation.

What do you do with these "surrendered" items anyway? Is it thrown in the garbage and sent to a landfill? Does it get auctioned off? Do you guys grab some beers at the end of the day and divvy up all your loot? Is it donated to a charitable organization? Or do you blow it up to make sure it wasn't a bomb? Inquiring minds must know.

I ask all of these questions because I'm sure that the confiscation of my possession is not a rare occurrence and people who are in a hurry are constantly "surrendering" their items, never to be seen again. But this forces the victim to purchase a new item just to replace a perfectly good one that the victim already owned. This really aggravates me. I even asked if they could place it in the Lost and Found so I could retrieve it on my way home (like my lost keys a few months ago). But I was told they "couldn't be responsible for doing that." It's great to know that we have irresponsible people protecting our airports. Heaven forbid something occurs that a script has not been written for, we will all be doomed at the hands of the almighty TSA.


kimberly flower said...

Honestly, it's different everywhere.

When my dad worked at san francisco international, they ended up getting some of it (pocket knives, etc.). He was just a plumber, but most of that stuff probably went home with someone.

Go figure right? They even took my topeak multi-tool that i left in my timbuk2 bag whilst on a business trip.

crappy man, crappy.

Debbie said...

A couple of years ago my local craft store (part of a large chain) had a baby size swimming pool full to the rim of scissors that had been confiscated at airports. They were selling them for $1 each. The stuff that isn't stolen by employees gets sold.

.BWJ. said...

Wow, thanks for the great article Debbie.

30 million surrendered items—that number is staggering.

Liz said...

There is an artist named Michele Pred who makes art out of surrendered items, which is pretty interesting. Not that it makes losing your wrench any better...

megan said...

Ugh, this stuff makes me so mad! I almost think that the TSA and the bottled-water (and hair products and pocketknives and etc.) companies are in cahoots to get more people buying. When I think about all of the pre- AND post-consumer waste in this equation, I just get so upset!!

Megan from Fix