It ws 2004 and my first flight out of La Guardia airport to do the show, “Almost Heaven, The Songs And Stories of John Denver” in Denver, Colorado and as usual, had my mandolin in tow. It’s small enough to bring on board and previous to this “incident” I had flown with it over 15 times since 2001 (9/11) all across the country to various shows. Being my first flight out of that airport I didn’t anticipate any problem taking my instrument with me. I had always flown out of JFK on most all of my previous flights (Newark on occasion) and I expected this flight to be no different than all the others, going through security and such.
I put my computer/personal items bag through the detector first (at that point you didn’t have to take your computer out as you do now) and then my mandolin....the worker at the monitor stops it and says “What’s in the mandolin case?” I told her there was a crystal, a tuning fork and a mandolin capo and 3 sets of fresh strings, worth about $60. Then this TSA worker opens up my soft case and says that i can’t take the 3 sets of strings on board. I tell her i’ve never had a problem before and asked to see the supervisor. She calls one of the heads of security.
One of the supervisors comes over, opens my soft case and sees the 3 sets of strings and says, “You can’t take these on board with you” to which I say, “I’ve never had a problem before and these are always in there in case I break a string or have to replace them all”. She still insists that I can’t bring them on, that I should “mail them to myself”, directing me to the Post Office downstairs. I remind them that it’s Sunday and the Post Office, including their branch, was not open on Sunday. (I noticed that the steel gate was pulled down over the office when I walked by on my way to security). She persisted and, having no other options, I literally shoved the 3 sets of strings into her hands and said snidely “Here. Learn to play the mandolin”.....God! I was pissed! $60 down the drain! A first. I’ve had my run ins with airlines and occasionally airport security (like the time after the last show of a certain Orchestra I was singing with, the whole band had partied all night and everyone had made it through airport security, exhausted and still a little drunk, until it was my turn to go through security with my mandolin.....wait.....that’s another whole blog!)
As I am walking down the ramp to the plane, a little more than pissed off about losing the strings it occurred to me...
Apparently, I needed “fresh” strings to strangle somebody!
BECAUSE I HAD STRINGS ON MY MANDOLIN!!!
Ok, it might look a little odd for me to be de-tuning a string on an instrument in the middle of a flight and I totally get the “security” thing, but come on.....REALLY!?
(Not to mention I always carry one extra set in my computer bag! Wait a minute...those might have been spare used strings! :o)
M. Lanning 7/18/12