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Tuesday, September 20, 2005
A semi-tragic anecdote involving kittens, fire and airport security
If a title like that doesn't get you readin', nothing will.
A few weeks ago I was stopped while passing through airport security at PDX. An item in my carry-on immediately brought a long line of irritated passengers to a halt. The cause for alarm?
A cigarette lighter covered in photos of kittens.
A friend brought this bizarre knickknack back from France after discovering it for sale at a gas station outside Reims. I'd left it in my bag after a previous trip and forgotten all about it until airport security intervened. After scanning me with a metal-sniffing wand and examining every last inch of my carry-on for bomb making materials, they let me go under one condition: the lighter had to be confiscated.
Parisian kitty lighters are pretty rare in this part of the world so I wasn't going to let it go without at least a twenty second argument. Over the past few months the lighter has proved to be a great conversation piece, mainly because one of the felines looks terrified, implying that it's meant to light more than just cigarettes on fire.
Yeah, I know. Animal cruelty is never, ever funny but, in this context, isn't it at least mildly amusing?
After one guard misunderstood my rambling explanation, she concocted a story about how the lighter was a sentimental gift from my "fiancee." Satisfied, her colleagues allowed me to keep it under the condition that I would leave it in Portland.
I decided to pay $5 to drop it off at a storage shop near baggage claim. When I got back into town on Labor Day the place was closed.
The lighter is still out there so I have a decision to make. Is a disposable lighter, no matter how odd and one of a kind, really worth a drive back to the airport?
I'm looking for advice so it's time for another ridiculous poll. Feel free to do my thinking for me. What would you do?