After what happened at LAX last week, with the crazed gunman shooting a TSA officer, things must be tensing up at airport checkpoints around the world. My friend Reed found this out the hard way three days ago, and now his whole life has been turned upside down.
It began at a Philadelphia airport X-ray machine, where Reed tried to pass through while en route to North Carolina on business for the pharmaceutical company he works for. The buzzers went off and it turned out what was causing the alarm was a blade from a blade scraper. He took out his wallet and showed it to the screeners, it’s what he’s been carrying around in his wallet for twenty years.
“Why do you carry that?” he was asked. “Because you never know when you’re gonna need to cut something,” Reed said.
Then suddenly things started getting ugly. His phone was taken and so were his keys and his cash. In fact everything he had in his suitcase was taken. Then the Philadelphia police came and took him to a holding cell where he spent five hours without the chance to call anyone. Then the FBI came and brought him to another part of Philly, and kept him there longer. In all he was out of contact for two days. Work days.
Later on he was told that he said he wanted to bring the blade into the airport to cut someone. But he never said that nor ever even thought about that. He just forgot he had the blade in his wallet. He was going to a conference, not planning an attack.
So he gets back to work and is fired. Fired from a job at a big pharmaceutical company’s lab, where he’s worked for twenty-two years. The reason–he was absent and didn’t call in, even though it was all beyond his control. I called Reed today to give him support. “I have no rights,” he said angrily. “I have no control, I wasn’t able to call anyone, nobody explained what was happening, I can do nothing.”
His fate is in the hands of the federal government, who are talking about big charges. As he said to me today, you never know what the government might do, and how quickly they can jump to the worst conclusions.