From the Archives: Matters of Security

The Department of Homeland Security had deemed the terrorist threat level Orange on the day that Ari Derfel, co-founder and CEO of Back to Earth Organic Catering and Outdoor Adventures*, was flying from San Francisco to Salt Lake City. He decidedly did not want to empty his canteen of water at the security check point and so was armed with papers he had printed from the Homeland Security website. Officer A told him to dump the water.  Ari said he didn’t have to since the water, which he had tainted with electrolytes, was a medical necessity. “Do you have a note from a doctor?” Officer A inquired. Ari did not and did not need one according to Homeland Security regulations. He offered to drink some of the water just to prove it was not a key ingredient in making an explosive devise. Officer A refused. Ari requested to see his supervisor. “That won’t help,” said Officer A paging Officer B, his supervisor. Repeat Scene 1 for Officer B who was no more convinced than Officer A of Ari’s medical need, but to prevent further headache, waved Ari through security without making him drink from his canteen which, being made of stainless steel and covered with anti-establishment stickers, did indeed look like a bomb.

This story Ari told at a house party thrown on the steep face of the Oakland Hills. He was wearing a red bindi and narrow side burns shaved to a point at his chin. He was still glowing from his twelve day trip to Hawaii’s big island where he had again defied order and wandered through an active lava field. When it began to rain so heavily that he couldn’t see even three feet in front of him, he sat cross legged on the lava crust to perform pranayama. He sought a spirit guide and over his left shoulder appeared the unduly adorable face of his best friend’s two year old son, Elijah. Ari asked for his help and Elijah obliged, managing to guide Uncle Ari out of the lava field without putting his foot through the fragile crust and into hot lava. This story Ari also told at the Oakland house party for a group of enraptured friends including Elijah who was up way past his bed time but was frankly more interested in capturing the attentions of Ari’s business partner’s beautiful girlfriend who Elijah was unabashedly in love with. 

Ari did not mind because there were other stories to tell, particularly about getting stopped at the security gate on the way home from Hawaii. Having decided, from his experience on the Utah trip, that the battle to keep the water in his canteen was not worth the effort, Ari had not anticipated any problems. But that was to underestimate the dangers in a pound of chocolate wrapped in cellophane and a backpack full of trash. “I’m collecting all my garbage for a year, sir,” Ari explained to the concerned Officer C, noting how disappointed he was to be bringing back so much trash since he was limiting himself to one 96 gallon bag for the year. But Officer C was more worried about the chocolate and suggested Ari check it. Ari argued that would not be possible since it was smaller than a baggage claim sticker. Ari offered to take a bite of it instead.

Officer C called his supervisor Officer D who finally agreed that Ari could take the chocolate on board only if he first put it in a plastic zip-lock bag and zipped it closed. Ari explained that he couldn’t do that because he was currently engaged in a project where he was limiting his garbage and could not afford to make unnecessary waste. Officer D, her own chocolate addiction having been triggered by the discussion of this aromatic item, remembered that she still had half a 75% coco bar with almonds in her purse and so decided she could forgo this security breach and still have enough of her lunch break to retrieve the treat. She waved Ari through security without making him eat the chocolate. Ari was thankful that she forgot all about the zip-lock bag, saving him a bit of space for some other more worthy piece of trash.**

*Ari is now co-owner of the wildly successful restaurant Gather in Berkeley, CA.
**Ari did succeed in saving all his garbage for a year.  Read about it at www.saveyourtrash.typepad.com

No comments:

Post a Comment