In my last column, I wrote of my successful efforts to save pocket knives at security checkpoints in airports and at concert events.
I suppose that almost anyone who carries a pocket knife has been faced with similar dilemmas at one time or another. The reason being a pocket knife becomes a part of the contents of your pocket that is almost forgotten until called upon.
My friend, Steve Ellis, tells of how while serving the military in Vietnam, he was the only one among his buddies who carried a pocket knife.
“You would not believe how many times my buddies asked to borrow my knife,” Steve said. “When orders came for me to go home, I left my pocket knife with one of my friends so they would have one to borrow.”
In the world where I grew up, a pocket knife was almost indispensable … handy as a pocket on a shirt. And it seems that every knife has an attachment to someone — a memory of a grandfather … a gift from a friend ... a link to the past. So, a pocket knife is worth rescuing from time to time.
That brings me to a Paul McCartney concert at Thompson-Boling Arena on the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville. That evening, I just happened to be carrying four-blade, Case XX given to me by a young friend on the day of his wedding ... a special gift.
As I approached the security checkpoint, I began to empty my pockets to find, to my dismay, the Case XX. There was no turning back here. I was a long way from my parked car. The two security guards, both women, were right in front of me. The woman nearest me I determined, by her age and general appearance, to be a person of wisdom and good judgment.
I extended my arm and opened my right hand to show her my knife, and with pleading eyes, I whispered, “What do I do?”
She glanced cautiously to her right and then to her left, and said, “You put it (the knife) in this basket. I will slide it down the table. When you walk through there, pointing to the metal-detecting doorway, you grab the knife and run like ...”
I try to write a clean column, so I won’t use her exact word, but it’s a place no one wants to go. I did exactly as she directed except for the running part. I did, however, walk away briskly after emptying the basket.
It was a great concert. As I was leaving the arena that night, I was pleased to see the woman who had done me a favor. She was seated with another security guard at the exit doorway. As I walked by, I leaned toward her, and, out of the corner of my mouth, I whispered, “Thanks for saving my knife.”
She didn’t blink. She looked straight ahead with an expressionless face, and with no feeling in her voice, she said, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
I chuckled as I walked away.
“There are still a few people around who have some common sense,” I thought.
A couple of weekends ago, I had to fly to Chicago. Sure enough, when I arrived at airport security in Nashville, I found a pocket knife in my pocket. This time it was a little, slender Case called a toothpick given to me by one of my sons — another special knife. I couldn’t see giving it up, so I decided to take a chance. With it being a tiny knife, I slipped it under my cell phone in my backpack. It passed through security “slicker than a peeled onion.”
Being one who is not inclined to tempt fate, I made arrangements to mail the toothpick back home and not hazard another attempt to get it through security, especially in Chicago. Two weeks later, the knife found its way home. The postal service had even placed my envelope inside another, larger “window” envelop to see that the contents arrived safely — a nice touch by the United States Postal Service.
So, here’s to all you pocket-knife-carrying, pocket-knife-tottin folks who value a good pocket knife. They are worth rescuing from time to time, you know. I know the metal in them is not like it used to be, but stainless steel is not so bad.
Speaking of metal, the best pull tobacco knife we ever used had a blade fashioned from a piece of fender from a T-Model Ford. It would hold an edge like the pocket knives of old.
As the old timers were oft to say, “They just don’t make metal like they used to.
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