OPINION COLUMNS

Lost my pliers!

By Gerre Joiner | Published Saturday, December 12, 2015
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We went to New York City for Thanksgiving.

We had some reserve about making the trip because of security concerns. We thought a little about our safety. Good friends, especially some at the coffee shop, voiced reserve about us making the trip during a time when news reports were filled with accounts of terrorism and threats of terrorism.

We decided to go ahead with our plans.

Airport security at Love Field seemed to be a notch or two above normal but not invasive. Tightened security created no inconvenience for us.

One always needs to be prepared to lose a pocket knife if he forgets to unload it before entering the airport. One always needs to wear jeans that won’t fall down when one’s belt is removed and placed in the gray plastic tub that goes through the X-ray machine.

One should always wear socks without holes.

Everything went well when we passed through security in Dallas on Tuesday. Went well when we toured four or five Tuesday-through-Friday events requiring us to unload pockets, take off our shoes and belts and place laptops and cell phones in plain sight, so that the security folks could scan our stuff … along with our handheld bags.

Then on Friday morning, we traveled to see the Statue of Liberty. I was surprised during the security process when the man looking at the X-ray of my handheld bag (containing everything from dental floss to phone chargers) shouted to his superior, “Bad check!”

He waited for his boss to walk over, pointed to the X-ray image and said, “I believe this is a pair of pliers here.”

I was astounded as I looked at the picture. I knew those pliers!

I had used them to help our neighbors install Christmas lights and wreaths at our neighborhood’s entrance a few days before. I had absolutely no idea how they got in that bag.

I offered to dig to the bottom of the little bag and retrieve the pliers. The man quickly told me that he would do it. He used a foot-long dowel rod to move things around in the bag until he spotted the pliers and grabbed them with a rubber-gloved hand.

I have 3,500 Facebook friends who were notified on this faux pas thanks to the thoughtfulness of my son, Matt. He was more than happy to post the picture of me reloading my pockets after this embarrassing event.

Among the Facebook comments were:

  • “How did he get through airport security with pliers???”
  • “Where’s the bailing wire?”
  • “Pliers??? There are just no words!”

A few asked if duct tape was involved in this story in any way.

One friend suggested, “He needs to stay home more often.”

We made it through the rest of the trip in fine style. Perfect weather, moderate crowds … as long as one didn’t get too close to the parade route. I watched the parade on a television set while seated in a restaurant one block away. Estimates were, I think, 3 million attendees.

Then we were shuttled out to LaGuardia Airport preparing for a Saturday evening flight back to Dallas. At the security station, the man looked at me, looked at my stuff and said, “Unload your pockets. Take off your belt. Keep your boots on.”

Then he stamped my boarding pass, “Expedited Security.” I wondered why, but didn’t ask.

We were seated in the boarding area waiting for our plane when I asked my daughter-in-law’s father, Tony Roberts, “Why do you suppose they stamped my boarding pass the way they did? Why did they hurry me through without requiring me take my boots off?”

Tony said, “Gerre, they knew you were harmless. They already had your pliers.”

Gerre Joiner is a semi-retired church musician and has lived in Decatur since 1999.

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