Airport Security… we’ve all experienced it and the stress of dealing with this terminal safety element to catch a flight. There’s the hurried business traveler, pompous pilot, annoying flight attendant, the confused leisure passenger, and the stressed-out irritated mother with the screaming kid that will absolutely not wear a mask. Jammed together in the already crowded security line, even after reading numerous social distancing signs, they all have one common characteristic... impatience!
Over the years, we in the aviation industry who travel more than a flight of geese heading south, have seen it all. You’d think we would have learned how to go through airport security without coins in our pocket, a pre-removal of belts and fake costume jewelry, and not wearing brass studded designer jeans. Well, think again!
Yours truly was rushing to catch an early morning flight. I got to security, pitched the overnight bag on the conveyor, dropped my small purse into a tray and glided through the security scanner with the confidence of a professional flight guru. Instantly an alert buzzer began bellowing like a hog about to be butchered.
Simultaneously, the baggage x-ray scanner flashed red and a voice that sounded like a lighthouse foghorn pulled me aside and said, “Is this yours?” holding up my tiny purse that had exited the security conveyor.
“Yes, it’s mine. What’s the issue?”
Foghorn: “There’s a bullet in it. Do you have a gun concealed?”
The surrounding passengers stepped back from the line as if I had a contagious disease or had eaten a raw onion and forgot to brush my teeth.
“What bullet? What gun?” I remarked with my most intimidating tone.
Hanging from the security officer’s massive hand was the harmless small gray leather purse (billfold) about 6 inches long and 4 inches wide with a black lanyard attached. To my knowledge it had nothing but dollar bills, my driver’s license and credit cards. The way Foghorn was glaring at me, I thought he was implying there was a time bomb hidden in a secret compartment in the oversized briefcase that was behind my property on the conveyor belt. It appeared that was not the case.
Foghorn: “Will you please unzip this item and remove the contents?”
“Sure, but what are you looking for?”
Foghorn: “A bullet!”
“Jesus, you must be losing it.” I gruffly remarked. (Obviously, the wrong attitude at this point in the conversation.)
Foghorn: “Just unzip it, NOW!”
Not wanting to push the subject further, I started unzipping the three compartments. Out came my traveling money, three credit cards, my driver’s license, insurance cards and a tooth pick. No surprises...right?
Foghorn: “That’s not everything. There is one more item, the bullet.”
“Okay, where is it hiding? Because the purse is lying flat as a pancake on your conveyor belt, totally empty.”
Foghorn: “No, try the inside right bottom corner in the crease of the leather.”
Enough was enough. Glaring, with an uncontrollable urge to backhand this man, I poked my index finger into the crease of the leather…and hit a round hard object about an inch long. Sure enough, a .38 hollow-point bullet popped out. My sense of humor, always on the edge of coming out with some Texas colloquialism, released an explosion of hysterical laugher. The officer did not see the humor.
Foghorn: “Lady, will you please step over to my office so we can discuss what is so funny about this bullet?”
I started to explain between an outburst of giggles. “You’re not going to believe this, but two weeks ago I was shopping for a Colt .38 revolver. Actually, I was looking for a Colt Cobra; a lightweight, aluminum-framed, double-action short-barreled revolver, perfect for the small hand I have. You see, I hid the Colt my husband gave me thirty years ago somewhere in my house but can’t remember where. I still had the box of shells, so I removed one to take with me to make sure the gun I selected could take the shells I owned. Of course, the shells are so old that they would probably blow up the gun if it was ever fired. Afterwards, I forget to take the shell out of my purse when I returned home.”
Not believing a word I said, Foghorn puffed up like a toad and said, “Okay, so where is the gun?”
“I didn’t purchase it because I didn’t want a mother-of-pearl light pink grip handle, and that was the only model available and it wasn’t a Colt. It appears that .38 revolvers are not that popular these days in the plain ole’ black style. Now tell me, would you carry a gun with a pink handle?”
Foghorn’s face was frozen in that doubting look that screamed, “Is this broad for real?”, but agreed that he would not have a gun like that in his collection.
Soon after my unscheduled stop at airport security, I boarded my plane. Foghorn kept my bullet, but informed me that when I returned it would be in the properties room to be claimed .
Despite the oh-so-wonderful interaction we had just shared, I did not retrieve that bullet upon my return home.