Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Let's Play CLUE...

You know this game, you have to figure out “whodunnit.” But I’m going to give you the answer ahead of time… it was the granny in the airport using the family silver. 

Now you really must be wondering what this is all about… When I went to Colombia for the first time several years ago, there were a number of things I didn’t want to risk leaving in a storage unit anywhere. Maybe you’ve seen the weekly TV show “Storage Wars” where people fail to pay their storage bill and everything gets auctioned off. I didn’t want that to happen to silver knives, forks and spoons that were a gift to me from my father when I married back in the 60’s. Some of the other things I valued were an antique mirror with two drawers, a cedar chest, and my PC and bike.

The fellow I went to Colombia with felt he had enough to fill a container, with a little room left over. He was actually mad at me when we were packing it because the little bit of space I was taking was preventing him from taking more things. That darn container weighed over 10 tons!! (You can read about that past adventure here.)

Anyhow, when we decided to go our separate ways, he still had a a huge storage bin in Washington, PLUS all the stuff from the container in Colombia. I took my things and found a house in Colombia to live in, and surprise, I had a lot more than I realized.

In this past year I have been downsizing, and shipped a rather hefty collection of things back to the U.S. including those mentioned above - except the family silver because the shipper would not take responsibility for anything of ‘great value.’
Crew from PORTAN, S.A., packing up my
things. Great job! Nothing damaged!

So I decided I would take it back when I flew home. I was tired when I was packing and not paying close attention to what was going in which bag, and ended up putting six place settings of silver, including of course the forks and knives. GUESS WHAT? They were in my carry-on because they are valuable. GUESS WHO doesn’t like knives in carry-ons? The Colombian version of TSA pulled me aside, opened my carry-on and took out those items preparing to confiscate them.

I am in pretty good health, but I could see a cardiac arrest in my future watching that guy (who probably could have fenced the handles on the knives for a healthy income) walk away with all of it. Fortunately an English-speaking Colombian came to my aid and explained to the agent that they were my old family heirlooms (which are very important to Colombians in general) and they agreed to hold onto them until I could get with the JetBlue agent to help me find a solution.

First of all I centered myself and got calm as I walked off to try and locate someone from JetBlue. But when I got to my gate, there were no JetBlue agents and another flight was boarding for the U.S. Now I was getting frantic. My silver dinnerware is sitting in full view of everyone on top of the scanner, waiting for me to re-claim it, and the gate where my flight was scheduled to depart did not exist.

Finally I was able to flag down a JetBlue employee who had a walkie-talkie and he called his supervisor, who then showed up and called someone else to go back to the scanning area with me. As this all took about an hour, my flight was now at another gate and would soon be boarding and I am wondering what kind of solution will evolve.

People… in the worst - or what seems like the worst of situations - when you get calm and do your intention “there is a solution for this for the highest and best good of all concerned,” it does manifest!

Pretty soon a nice JetBlue female employee walked me back to the scanning area, the silver was still there, the Colombian agent had us do the paperwork to sign off on these weapons of mass destruction, I was informed I could put them back in the carry-on but it would be checked at the gate and I would be escorted to make sure that was going to happen.

Just as we were returning to the gate, one of the other passengers on my flight threw her left-over coffee cup, half-filled with cream, toward the trash can, but missed it and hit me instead! She was horrified, I was amused, and when she said she was sorry, I replied, “It could have been worse; it could have been higher and hit me in the head instead of my shoes.” She laughed nervously and admitted, “Yes, it could have been worse.” and I was thinking to myself, “You have NO idea… I have just rescued my heirlooms from a confiscation bin.”

So what is the CLUE here? Traveling, and preparing to travel, makes one tired. Or at least it does that to me now. But even if you are tired, go over the items in your carry-on AGAIN and check them off against the MOST CURRENT Not Allowed list, and particularly do not think that just because you used the knife and fork for breakfast that the people who are protecting the skies see them as harmless instruments of gustatory delight.

Looking south from the mirador in Barichara.
I want to publicly thank the customs employees at El Dorado Airport for their willingness to listen, to discuss alternatives and to be patient with me while finding one. I also want to thank JetBlue's staff for their unparalleled customer service, showing concern and compassion in a competitive atmosphere. At any point along this journey of my stupidity, someone could have been insensitive or uncaring and I might have had a very different ending on this day.


  1. I am so glad you got them back. You hear some awful stories of airline employees not being all that nice. :-)

  2. dear sandy,

    whew! what relief you must have felt when the problem was solved. me, too - i was getting nervous just reading your account, rather fearful you might have been hauled off to the
    hoosegow! but, alas, your calmness and intending (glad you gave mention to the words to use - i'll write them down, can't trust this chemobrain for nuthin') along with the jet blue rep and custom people, saved the day - and the silverware! as always, a great post, sandy; you are such a wonderful writer.

    love, XO,

    karen, TC

    1. Thank you, Karen, for your high praise... I do it for you and all the others who cannot - for whatever reason - fly and travel and have similar thrilling days... LOL!

  3. Actually it is more the government 'inspection' employees who are disagreeable. I was coming into BC for a ski trip and at the border the Canadian inspectors told me my brand-new ski lock was a weapon of assault because it was a cable and could be used to strangle someone. I said, "I am a grandmother, I do not go around killing people with my ski lock." Because I was getting irritated, they started to gang up on me and threaten me with jail if I talked back to them anymore. I wish I'd had the courage to stand up to them, but I didn't want to miss my ski vacation, so I submitted...

  4. dear sandy,

    i say, "good decision!". and you DID have the courage, just tempered with discretion. and, really - you won! you didn't miss your ski vacation!

    love, xo

    karen, TC