"Ask the Pilot" addresses the nail clipper conspiracy

Frequent and/or savvy Bladam readers might have noticed that I’m often citing articles from Salon.com. That’s because even the free stuff there is amazingly insightful and a downright pleasure to read… and the ‘premium’ articles — for which I pay about $30 a year — are typically far more substantive and thoughtful than what you’ll more commonly find in similar journals.

Their “Ask the Pilot” column is especially cool, written by an honest-to-goodness pilot at a major airline who answers questions that run the gamut from “Why aren’t there more women pilots” to “Do seat cushions actually save lives?”

His most current installment, in which he laments the ridiculous folly that comprises most of the “security” measures in place now, particularly resonated with me… since I recently had my nail clippers confiscated from me.

I had earlier read that the airline security folks were no longer prohibiting these items, I’m guessing due to a lessening fear of a hijacker threatening to “Stand back, or I’ll clip your nails!” But alas, my particular species was “more sharp than regular ones” meaning that, I suppose, I could have been especially threatening to even lengthier-manicured flightmates.

I got only a momentary chuckle from the confiscation incident, when the security guard expressed a look of deep concern, and excused herself to talk with a supervisor. She seemed a bit ashen-faced when she returned.

“Sir… um… sir… are these really $85?”

I was full ready to say “Yes, ma’am, and not only that, these are a family heirloom, passed down from generation to generation, and are of enormous financial and sentimental value to me. And I’d never THINK of clipping a flightmate’s fingernails without his or her express written permission!”

Unfortunately (or, perhaps, fortunately)… aware of the generally chilly reception to jokes in the security line, I politely explained that, no, the price tag was not in U.S. currency, and I only paid about U.S. $9 for them.

Besides, had I engaged in my goofy fib, she might have selfishly stuck them in her pocket, sprinting to eBay right after her shift.

Sometimes you just can’t win.

Patrick’s column in Salon is no more, but you can find his writing on his own site now!

What do you think?

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