Once upon a time I had these 3 cool friends: Todd, Trevor, Jordan. They were all film students who had gone on their missions to Cambodia. We met in film classes and always had a jolly time. One day they decided that they wanted to go back to Cambodia to make a documentary as part of a school project. I invited myself to come along. They didn't believe that I was serious about going until I purchased a plane ticket. Then they understood that when Asia invites herself to things, she MEANS it.
Side note! I am SO lucky that the Liam Neeson movie Taken hadn't come out yet. My mom flipped when she saw that: "Why did I ever let you go to Cambodia!?!"
One sunny May (or June...?) day, we went to the Salt Lake airport and began the crazy travel to Cambodia. We were to fly to LA, then to Taiwan, then to Saigon/Ho Chi Menh City, then to Phnom Penh. We checked our bags, then began the process of going through security. While in the security line, Todd realized that he had forgotten to check his knife (a knife that he always carried in his pocket to use for random reasons at random times). Our bags were already checked. We were in the security line. This was just a big problem because he really liked that knife and it was a gift or something.
So, being a kind and gentle friend (who also had a small crush on Todd), I offered to carry the knife in my back pack. Why did I think this would work? What? Looking back I feel like the idiot girl who did the idiot thing and could have gone to jail or something. But I was 19, excited to go to Cambodia with my friends and felt like being a knife smuggler could be a fun adventure. I'm a sucker for adventure... So at the time, it really didn't seem like a big deal.
So we put the knife in my back pack and I put my back pack on the security belt so it could be scanned by the TSA people. I walk through the security-doorway-thing and made it to the other side. Surprise! My bag was flagged, pulled off of the conveyor belt and searched. They must have seen the rather large knife I was attempting to smuggle out of Utah.
Here's the disturbing part -- they searched and searched, but found no knife. They zipped up my bag and gave it back to me. I was off, scot-free. And I still had a knife in my back pack. I had smuggled a knife through security at the SLC airport... and it wasn't very hard.
Once we were at our gate, I told Todd about the security incident and we were both relieved that his knife was not confiscated, but at the same time, we were very worried about our safety because apparently it is pretty easy to sneak scary things through security. The likelihood that we were surrounded by guys with bazookas in their back pockets had increased.
Then we make it to LAX, the largest and scariest airport ever. We had to go through security again because now we were flying internationally and we had to leave some kind of terminal to go to another one la la la the point is I still had a knife in my back pack.
We waited in line patiently, people from every corner of the globe waiting with us. Finally, it was our turn to go through LA's security. I took my cell phone out of my pocket and put my back pack on the conveyor belt. I walked through and when I went to collect my back pack, the TSA people looked worried. They pointed at their screen (most likely it was at the HUGE KNIFE IN MY BACK PACK). But -- get this -- when they went to search my bag, they pulled the wrong back pack off of the belt. The person behind me also had a back pack, I guess, and he was the one who got searched. Seriously. I grabbed my bag and headed for my gate.
I had successfully smuggled a knife through two airport security portals. Disturbing? Yes.
Then we were on a plane for 67,4223412145 hours and finally made it to Taiwan. In Taiwan, we went through security for a third time. We were tired and gross-looking and Taiwan was weird and different and kinda dark and had too much flourescent lighting. But nonetheless, we lined to be to security-fied.
I stepped forward. I put my back pack on the conveyor belt. I walked through the metal detection thingy. On the other side, I was greeted by a tall Taiwanese man who looked down at me and said, bluntly, "You have a knife in your bag." I looked up, groggily and responded with a simple, "Yep." Then he said, "We're going to have to check your back pack and put it under the plane with the rest of your luggage."
That was it?
I could have done that in Salt Lake... All I had to do was check my bag.
So, I didn't go to jail in a foreign, poorly lit country; I didn't even get a slap on the wrist. And when we were headed back to American from Cambodia, Todd checked his frickin' knife.
And that, my friends, is how I became a knife smuggler. Moral of the story?? Ummm.... I don't want to say "airport security in America can be kinda sucky", but really....