The Black Hole of Airport Security

It was quite a nice little Swiss Army Knife.  It even had my name inscribed on the side.  A corkscrew; a toothpick; tweezers.  Very handy.  I think my parents brought it back directly from Switzerland several years back.  I haven’t told them yet.  It’s gone.  Where, you ask?  I have no idea.  I mean, I know who took it.  I just don’t know where it is.  You see, after placing it into my shaving kit for a road trip to rural southern Indiana a month ago, I neglected to remove it before I tried to get on a plane.  Therefore, it became the property of…  the TSA?  Nashville International Airport?  The screener with the bulging pockets?  I’ll never know.  I’m not angry about it.  I’m the one who forgot to remove it from my bag.  They were just doing their job and trying to protect the flying public.

I can't believe they wouldn't let me take this on the airplane!

It’s not the first time I’ve done it.  The last time it was the same stinking knife, but they told me that there was a booth nearby where I could pay some exorbitant fee (something like $20-$25) to have the item mailed to my home.  So, I did.  This time, however, there didn’t seem to be such an offer forthcoming, and I was in a rush to make my flight.

At about 30,000 feet, I started to think about what happens to all of the items that are confiscated by airport security around the world.  Think about it – that’s a lot of stuff.  I would imagine there are guns, knives, tools, liquor, scissors, and hundreds of other miscellaneous items that pile up each day.  Where do they go?  Who is going to be filing their nails with a Swiss army knife that has my name on the side?

This is apparently a question that has been asked by many before me – well, not that exact question.  A simple Google search for “What happens to items confiscated at airport security?” brings up multiple links including this great article on CNN.com, as well as abcnews.com, howstuffworks.com, and a great wealth of information about “Leftover Loot” from yahoo.com.  In a single year, in the United States alone, more than 13 million items are confiscated.  What happens to them seems to vary by state.  In some cases, they end up on ebay with profits benefiting the state.  In others, they are offered to Boy Scout troops and other charitable organizations – but at a discounted price.  It seems to me that funds from any and all of these items could be a great resource for charities.

However, since the TSA is a federally funded division of the Department of Homeland Security, I’m a little bit surprised that there isn’t a federal U.S. postal worker in a little booth right next to every airport security checkpoint in America.  This would give forgetful passengers such as myself the option of mailing the contraband item(s) to our home, or possibly to our destination, and would generate revenue for the government.  I would have had to purchase a padded envelope or box, pay for postage, and pay the usual airport mark-up for anything purchased.

A quick glance at the TSA’s list of permitted and prohibited items is quite enlightening.  Who knew that meat cleavers, spear guns, cattle prods, dynamite, hand grenades, gas torches, and snow globes are not allowed as carry-ons?  Thankfully, you are allowed to bring along your meat cleaver, spear gun, cattle prod, and snow globe in your checked baggage.

And so, here I am, Knife-less in Nashville.  A quick ebay search for “knife, marcus” lists mostly Neiman Marcus Steak Knives.  Hopefully, there’s a Boy Scout somewhere in America, whittling away at a tree branch, making a stick with which to roast his hot dog over an open flame…  with my knife.  Can I deduct that on my taxes?

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~ by suitenectar on July 1, 2010.

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