Concrete birds aren't meant to fly
MANY years ago, when hijacking an airliner to Cuba, Istanbul or Roanoke, Va., was considered the most serious of terrorist incidents, I attempted to carry a large concrete seagull on board a flight from Oregon to Hawaii. The stewardess, as the female flying security agents were called back in those naive days, confiscated the seagull from me.
At first I thought she was just being nice because the seagull was as big as a, well, seagull and weighed about 35 pounds. But I found out she wasn't doing me a favor, she was disarming me. It seems she was worried that the two steel "legs" protruding from the base of the seagull -- which you would pound into a fence post to display the bird -- could be used as a weapon. Although I doubted anyone would be brazen enough to hijack an airplane with a concrete seagull, I was happy to hand over the offending statue.
In retrospect, this stewardess was ahead of her time. She's the kind of akamai flight attendant that would have caught a terrorist trying to light his tennis shoe/bomb with a match long before athletic shoes were known to be offensive weapons.
I was thinking of the Oregon cement seagull incident because I will be taking a flight to the Northwest in a few weeks, the first time I've flown in quite a while. And frankly, I'm a little nervous. Because it seems that virtually anything, according to security experts, can be turned into a weapon to hijack or destroy an airliner.
Well, almost anything. The Transportation Security Administration has just decided that it is OK for passengers to carry small sharp items such as fingernail snipper or tiny screwdrivers on board. Since 9/11, authorities apparently have confiscated about a million pairs of those little fingernails scissors and thousands of those small screwdrivers with clips used chiefly to decorate shirt pockets to identify the wearers as nerds.
It is questionable whether the seizure of nail scissors deterred terrorists, but the program without a doubt led to dramatic growth in the commercial manicure and pedicure industry. Still, there simply is no room at the airports to store all the miniature cutlery taken from passengers, so security is going let passengers keep the snippers and concentrate instead on trying to keep explosives off planes.
I'm all for that. Bombs: bad. A famous author who feared flying said she once considered sneaking a bomb onto an airplane herself because the odds of two strangers having a bomb on the plane at the same time were statistically impossible.
I'm not sure the new security changes will have an effect on my travel. I don't even own a pair of tiny scissors, and I've never had the need of a small screwdriver while traveling. I was going to take a machete to my brother for a Christmas present, but I guess that's out. I think a concrete seagull would look good on my deck, but I'll probably fight off the urge to bring one home with me.
Someone's getting Dizzy for Christmas. Dizzy, the year-old Doberman-pit bull doggie whom I wrote about last week, has been taken in by a family.
In fact, my column urging someone to adopt the misunderstood pooch from the Hawaiian Humane Society was so persuasive that Dizzy was adopted a day before the column even ran. Nevertheless, there are plenty of other dogs and cats hoping to find a home this holiday season. Give the gift that keeps on giving, or at least eating -- a pet from the animal shelter. Call 356-2212 to see what's available.
Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org