Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Knife

Many of you heard our “Toulouse Security” story when we arrived in America. Well, here is the knife!

For those of you who haven’t heard the story . . .

We flew to America from the Toulouse airport (it is about $800 cheaper/ticket than Montpelier!). So, on the day of departure, we woke early and drove a bit over 2 hours to Toulouse. Everything was going smoothly . . . We successfully parked the car in long term parking, lugged the bags to the terminal, checked the bags, etc. We thought we were going to get off to a flawless start.

Not so much.

Next stop was security. We each had one carry-on bag plus two laptop bags. There was no line whatsoever at security (another good reason to use the Toulouse airport again!), so we calmly put our things into trays and strolled through the metal detector.

So far so good.


Suddenly, the female security agent was very agitated. She grabbed Max’s carry-on and rushed to the tiny inspection area. Mike was busy putting laptops back into their bags, so he wasn’t paying much attention. I followed the agent and the bag, wondering the whole while, “Hmmm. Why Max’s bag? Does he have toxic markers in there or something?” I mean really – of all the carry-ons, why would Max’s bag cause a problem?

Next thing I knew, she was asking me, “Ou est le monsieur?” Oh no. Whatever it was, it was so bad that they wouldn’t even talk to me. They wanted to talk to Mike.

I waved Mike over, another security guard joined the fray, and they asked Mike to unzip the bag. They thoroughly searched the inside of Max’s bag, and I started to relax, thinking – it was a false alarm. Then, they unzipped the pocket on the FRONT of the bag, and . . . Quel horror!

They pulled out the knife. Oh no!

The agents confiscated Mike’s passport and boarding pass and the knife and rushed off to the small security office. We watched them all huddle over the boss’ desk and wondered, “Oh no! Are they going to give back the passport and boarding pass? Are they putting Mike on the “watch” list? Are they going to throw the knife away?”

After what felt like an eternity (it was actually less than 5 minutes), they returned to us and escorted Mike to the security office. The security boss gave Mike a stern scolding in French, something to the effect of: What are you doing buying a knife like this for your young son? This is not a toy! This is a weapon. However, we will let you reclaim it when you return.

They very kindly put the knife in an envelope marked with our name, and Mike picked it up when we landed in Toulouse. Thank you, nice security agents!

While all the security commotion was brewing, poor Max was horror-struck! It turns out that he put the knife in his carry-on that very morning, minutes before we left Bouzigues. He had remembered his favorite souvenir (we bought it for him in Carcassonne), and he wanted to bring it to America to show to all of his friends and family.

Poor guy! He was terrified that he was going to get in trouble and (even worse) that they would throw his knife away forever. I explained to him that you can’t bring anything that can be used as a weapon onto an airplane. You can check it, but you can’t carry it on. He completely understood. Considering we won’t let him bring the knife to school for show-and-tell, and we won’t let him play with the knife, he understands perfectly that it’s dangerous.

He was so relieved to know he would get it back!

If that had been security in a busy airport – or in America or England – I cringe to think of what would have happened!

Love to all!

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