Friday, May 30, 2008

It Could Happen to Anyone: A Snake in the Suitcase

After boarding Delta 46 last Friday, the Atlanta to Moscow flight, I realized I'd made it through airport security with contraband. It was accidental contraband but still, contra it was. Got to admit, that wasn't the first time either. It's that Swiss Army knife of mine that's usually on my key chain. That the knife is pink and cute and small is beside the point. It's contraband. And you know, there can be consequences for being ditzy and trying to get through security with a weapon like that. So I'd just like to apologize here and now to my Dear Delta, to the entire SkyTeam group and to everyone on that plane because, I just simply goofed.

But because of that misstep, I had somewhat more compassion for a certain John Q. Public, the fellow who packed a 12-foot python is his suitcase and failed to indicate that on his Customs Declaration form. Like me, maybe he was just thinking about other things. Seems he picked up Polly Python - that really could have been her name, you know - in Nigeria and decided to bring her back to the US with him. But alas, the alert customs folks there in Atlanta caught on and, well, somebody - guess it was Poor Polly Python - lost her hide as a result. There are worse things to lose of course. (Like what, for instance?)

Evidence of Polly Python, a 12-footer.

See, John Q. Public could have simply completed this form. That might have made a difference, who knows, if the Dept of Interior team there at the border could have observed the snake. Whatever. Point being, there are official procedures for bringing in friends from overseas. And then there's the black market route. Not that I know anything about that of course. And of course this is really not anything to joke about. I'm just thinking about things from Poor Polly Python's Perspective (aka the 4 P's).

Just one of several displays in Terminal E there in the Atlanta airport. In another display were all manner of exotic insects and even a parrot, all things that folks have tried to bring in on the black market. Here's a video about wildlife trade on the black market.

US customs and border protection.

Just talking about this, I'm flashing back to February 1978, when I was flying from Papua New Guinea to Brisbane, Australia. Going through customs, out of all the passengers on the plane, the customs agents selected yours truly, yes me, as the person who posed the biggest threat. They went through every single item in my suitcases. There's a story there and it will take almost no persuasion for me to share it sometime. But one clue in advance. It had nothing to do with a pink pocketknife. Let alone a Polly the Python.

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