July 19th, 2011:

I find the quickest way to anger your wife is to take a razor sharp object and put it in her carry-on luggage.  This really seems to do the trick, even for the calmest and most forgiving of wives who deal with the foibles of a man on a daily basis, this can set them on edge.

My personal experience with this was just last month when heading to the east coast. We had packed one bag to check and one carry-on, along with our camera gear.  Minutes before we were set to leave the house, I decided the checked bag was a little too heavy so I choose to throw a couple of my pouches full of AA batteries into the carry on – forgetting that my Leatherman was also in one of those said pouches.   We happily headed to the airport, checked our big bag and headed to security which I quickly walked through, only to look back as I was putting on my shoes to find them dragging my wife to one side with our carry-on in tow.

I overheard them saying she had a knife or tool in her bag and I sat there thinking, while she argued that she had packed the bag herself and she didn’t know what they were talking about.  As the search began, I had that OH…SHIT moment, and quickly said something out loud to Felicia and was quickly called over by security to tell them where it’s at.  I pointed to the canvas pouch only to watch her dump 30 rechargeable AA batteries and my $65 Leatherman into a plastic tub.

I instantly cringed and began mourning the loss of one of my most important wedding day tools.  A gift from my mother a number of years back – this little guy has been to 35 countries with me, hundreds of miles of trails and wilderness, and currently holds the championship spot for cutting straps off of brides dresses and labels from grooms shirts, and for all around photography usefulness – and now the TSA was going to throw it in a bin with measly nail clippers and tweezers. It was a fate I would never have wanted for this trusty sidekick.

Of the two TSA agents standing over Felicia’s bag, there was a man saying “Just throw it away and send them to their flight…” but I believe the lady who had my Leatherman in her hand could see my heartbreak, and stood there looking and me, then looking down at the tool, then looking back at me.  Finally she said I still had few minutes before the flight and she could escort me out of security and there was a machine on the other side of the terminal where I could mail it to myself. Salvation.

She walked me out of security and I frantically ran across the airport hunting this machine, at one point asking directions from a cop who pointed further down the hall. When I finally found this mailing machine (which was supposed to have packaging materials and be automated), what I saw brought back the heartache.   The machine was sitting there in disrepair covered in trash and graffiti, it was unplugged and there were no mailing materials to be seen anywhere. Dejectedly I walked back in the direction of the cop who just gave me directions and handed him my leatherman and told him my story, finally saying I would rather he has it, then it goes in the trash.

The officer (whose name I have purposefully omitted), looked at me, looked at the Leatherman, then reached in his pocket and handed me his business card, asking when I would be back in Burbank.  I promptly replied “10 Days!” and he said “I only work at the airport on Wednesday and Thurday, but I will hold it for you for two weeks, just give me a call when you get back.”

I quickly thanked him profusely and run back towards the security checkpoint to find my wife, (who by this point had the chance to stew about me putting a knife in her bag), beeped through security really quick, and told her the story.   She grumbled something that sounded like “…you piece of shit…”, but I am sure I just misheard in my excitement.   Anyways, by this point I figured I had a 50/50 chance of ever seeing it again, so we boarded the plane and spent the next 10 days in D.C. and N.Y.C. – during which time I sent the officer an email to thank him again and let him know I would return.

A couple days after we got back it was Wednesday, so Felicia and I headed to the airport (which is 5 minutes from our place), and I found the friendly officer who readily had my Leatherman in his pocket. I thanked him profusely and was reminded of the good that does exist in the world.