How about someone posting Treetop's burning backpack story for the new guys.
I don't got it. It is high-larious though.
Got it! Thank God for Google's cache.
Originally Posted By brasspile:
Time: middle of June, 2001.
Situation: Stopped at inspection in Burbank Airport.
Before I moved my Fiancée out here to Arizona, I was living alone out here preparing our future, and she was still living at the house we shared in California. We wanted to make sure that AZ was going to work out for us, and find a way to transfer her job out here.
We took turns traveling to see each other, every other weekend or so. Usually I would fly out there with no extra complications at all. I packed very light every time, always bringing only a backpack as carry-on, and no checked baggage. I like to be at the airport for as little time as possible, and don't like waiting for luggage. Plus I've had bad experiences before where luggage never shows up.
This particular trip, I had decided to do some work on her car that I'd been neglecting, so I brought out a few tools with me. I was planning on adding an alarm system to her car, and brought mostly electrical tools (at the time I worked with mobile electronics for a living). I just brought the stuff out in my backpack like I always do.
After a good weekend together, the time came for me to fly back to Phoenix. We arrived at the airport a little behind schedule (bad traffic); said our good-byes; and I ran through the hallways hoping to get on the plane, relax, and get home. By the time I got to the gate area, it was getting pretty close to my departure time. I've missed flights before, and I was praying it would all work out this time.
When walking through the gates, I did everything exactly as I always do. I put my backpack on the conveyor belt, emptied my pockets into the little basket, and took off my belt buckle to put in the basket too. My belt buckle always sets off the metal detector for some reason, so I've gotten used to just tossing it in with my pocket stuff.
The attendant made me turn off and on my cell-phones, to show that they were real or whatever (I had 2 at the time, one with my old CA number, and one with my AZ area code).
While I was simultaneously putting my belongings back in my pockets, showing that my phones were real, and trying to keep my pants from falling down since they had no belt buckle, the commotion started.
Three or four security officers were speed-walking to the gate area, and the attendant watching the x-ray monitors started wigging out and pointing at the screens to security and all the other airport employees in the area.
I figured someone had tried to smuggle something through, or there was some questionable objects in someone's bag.
It turns out they were looking at my backpack.
Everyone was serious as could be, and freaking out. At first I was wondering if a rat had crawled into my bag or something, not having a clue what they were freaking out about.
Just then 2 guys corner me, and one of them grabs me by the arm to pull me aside. Anyone who knows me would know not to grab me by the arm and try to tug on me, but these guys didn't know me from Adam, and tried to muscle me out of the path of other people. Bad Idea. My instinct was to pull away from them, and free myself from their grip. I was immediately successful. They were telling me (excitedly) to calm down, and I was telling them to keep their hands OFF of me. I think they understood, because they didn't touch me again after that.
I'm asking them what the heck was going on, because by this time they've got a couple other guys coming over too. The other people coming through the gate area are being held back, and I realize it's just me and a bunch of security guys and airline employees in the vicinity.
The guy who looks like he might be one of the higher-ups starts walking to a counter, holding my backpack out very carefully, like when you take a dirty diaper to the trash. He actually looked frightened. Another guy comes up to me and asks me "Is that your backpack?"
"Yes, what's the problem?"
“Has anyone else had access to it, or held it for you?"
"No and No," I responded.
"What do you have in your backpack?"
"Some clothes, some tools, and some other stuff. What's the problem?"
"Do you have a hammer in there?"
"A hammer? No. Why?" I couldn’t see where this was going.
"Are you sure you don't have a hammer in there?"
"Yes, quite sure." I couldn’t understand why a hammer would be reason to hold back a plane, or what they saw in my pack that would look like a hammer.
One of the guys rummaging through my backpack then starts walking to the man questioning me, looking like he just happened across the mother-lode. He's holding a brown plastic East-German AK buttstock out at arms length, practically shouting "Look what was in there!! Look what was in there!!"
Everyone starts wigging out at this point.
The man questioning me says "What's this??!!!"
I say "It's a buttstock for a rifle. It's a harmless piece of plastic."
The fat white guy who originally was monitoring the screens stepped in all hero-like and butted in: "I'm not new to this. I've seen those before. It's a survival rifle that comes apart and folds up inside itself!!!" He was as proud as could be, like a guy who single-handedly smashed a drug cartel. Unfortunately for him, he was more mistaken than even Miss Cleo ever could be. He'd mistaken a plastic AK Buttstock for an AR-7(a medium sized .22lr rifle which breaks down and packs neatly inside itself, designed for camping or backpacking-it’s about 3 times the size of the small plastic buttstock I had with me)!
I explained that it's NOT a "survival rifle", or anything remotely close to that. I explained that it was an almost non-functional piece of a rifle, that I was bringing it with me to replace a stock I had at home. It was truly the only gun-related thing I had in the backpack, except for the new issue of Shotgun News that was with my other mail.
The question guy said forcefully “You can't bring this on the plane."
"WHAT?? It's just a piece of plastic!" I was sure he would understand if I explained it was harmless.
"I'm sorry; you can't bring it on the plane. It's a gun part."
"Why not? It's a harmless six dollar piece of plastic!"
"Well, we don't know if you have the rest of the gun somewhere on the plane already."
This is when I just about lost it the first time.
I tried my best to keep my cool, and asked "So you're accusing me of trying to build a gun on the airplane??"
"Well, not exactly, we just don't know if you are or not."
"If you're accusing me of something, you’d better be sure of what you're talking about. I'm a regular citizen just like everyone else trying to get on this plane, and you're making me out to be a terrorist or something. I'll say it again. IT'S A HARMLESS PIECE OF PLASTIC!!"
"I'm sorry; you can't bring it on the plane. You can check it in your checked baggage if you want."
"I don't have any checked baggage."
His tone got even more serious as he asked "Why not?"
"Man, this is past ridiculous, bring over somebody in charge".
"I'm in charge of this area. I could bring over my boss, but you won't be happy with that."
He talks on his walkie-talkie for a second, then sneers and says "He's on his way."(giving me that "You'll be sorry" look.)
By this point I'm frustrated as hell. They're holding up my plane and still making everyone else wait. On top of my embarrassment was my irritation. I just wanted to get home.
By now I was thinking more rationally and trying to find an end to the whole thing.
I then asked "Can I just have you throw this thing in the trash and be on my way?"
"You mean you don't want it?"
"Of course I want it, but I'd rather spend the $6.00 for a new one later than deal with this BS now."
"Well, I guess you could do that. You can't bring guns on the plane."
I explained that I've brought similar gun parts on an airplane before, never once having an issue. He didn't believe me.
I figured that maybe I could find a way to keep some of it and asked "Can I take the metal parts off of it and keep them before throwing away the plastic?"
"Yes, can you do that?"
I start looking through my backpack for a small screwdriver to remove the buttplate and sling swivel, and something catches the other security guy's eye in there. I start removing the parts from the buttstock when I realize something.
"Why is it that I can't bring the plastic part on because it's a gun part, but you’re letting me bring the metal parts on the plane when you know that they're gun parts also???"
His reply had nothing to do with my question. "What's that guy holding up?" (pointing to the other guy digging through my backpack AGAIN.)
"That's my soldering iron. I told you I had some tools in there."
"I know that's not a soldering iron. I've seen soldering irons before, and they don't look like that."
"It IS a soldering iron. It's powered by butane rather than electricity."
[The Blue-Point(Snap-On) soldering iron is the one I used when working on cars, because it's a lot more convenient than bringing over my whole soldering station from the workbench.]
"What? Butane? You can't bring that on the plane either!"
"What do you mean?"
"You can't bring anything with compressed fuel in it on the plane."
My phone starts ringing. I grab the wrong one at first, and then answer the right one. It was my Fiancée; I told her I'd better call her back. The guys interrogating me looked at me like I'm a freak for having two phones.
I'd just gotten done removing the metal parts from the buttstock, handed the plastic part to Mr. smartypants, and was about to put the screwdriver away when I started smelling smoke. I looked over, and my backpack had FIRE coming out of it...
Apparently a female employee inspecting the soldering iron had screwed around with it, turning it on before placing it ON TOP OF MY MAIL in my backpack. I start smacking the backpack, trying to get the fire out, and the woman starts SCREAMING. She was yelling "That's FIRE!! You can't bring fire on the plane!!"
I was seriously ready to strangle someone.
I got the fire out, with minimal melting to the backpack. She was still frantic, yelling about how I tried to smuggle "fire" onto the plane.
I was very upset, done thinking clearly, and started yelling back.
"You stupid woman, YOU did this!"
"No I didn't. It just happened by itself!"
"It couldn't have happened by itself. It was turned off, with the adjustment at minimum. It's now on at full blast, where I've never had it before!"
"I didn't do it, YOU did it!!!"
Of all the things I hate, and there are a few, one of the worst is being accused of something I haven’t done. Especially by the person who’s actually at fault. At this point I’m pretty sure I was shouting. "Don't accuse me of things I didn't do! You turned on my soldering iron, and you caught all my stuff on fire!!!!!"
She practically burst into tears, and was escorted away by some other guy, still yelling at me about how I tried to burn down the plane.
By this point there's no fixing the situation, and almost no escaping it. I thought I was going to jail for sure, for disturbing the peace, if nothing else.
I took a moment to catch my breath, and talked directly to the head honcho who'd I guess been witnessing most of this fiasco.
He was at least calm with his words: "I can't let you take the soldering iron on the plane. You'll have to leave it here."
"Can I just check (what's left of) my backpack as luggage, and put it in there?"
"No, you can't even put something in checked baggage if it contains pressurized fuel. Not even a cigarette lighter."
I was so depressed at this point. I wasn’t about to throw out a $95.00 soldering iron that I’d need the next day at work, and I was just hoping that they weren't going to have me carried out by the Police.
I did some quick thinking, and asked if I could have someone come and pick up the soldering iron, and the buttstock, and just mail them to me in AZ. The guy said yes. I called my Fiancée and asked her if she could do that, and she said sure. She'd already been driving towards home for 20 minutes at least, but she turned around to come back.
I was finally allowed on the plane, I was the last one on board since they'd been holding the plane for me, and I had to sit in between 2 more idiots. I was sweating like a whore in church, and I had no cash on me for a drink. I was SO exhausted.
I called my Fiancée when I landed, and she'd gotten my stuff. Problem was the guy who gave me the most trouble was HITTING ON HER! She asked where the counter was that I'd told her to go to, and the guy told her he'd show her for $10.00. Very professional. He was hitting on her some more, and being a total smartass. If he’d known her temper, he wouldn't have done that. She laid into him something fierce, and said that “if they didn't have such incompetent morons working there, that she wouldn't even have to be wasting her time there”. The guy finally left her alone, she went home, she mailed me my stuff, and there's the end of the backpack story.
Looking back now, there are definitely some things I should’ve done differently. For starters I should’ve been more aware of the laws and restrictions regarding what can be brought in carry-on luggage. I’d never even considered that a soldering iron would be a threat or a danger to anyone. This was before the terrorist attacks on the twin towers, and security was quite a bit more lax back then. I’d hate to see what would happen to someone attempting to board an airplane with those things these days!
Always fun to read that one again
I got my yuks out of reading it again.
Thanks for the save Airwolf!