Sunday, December 23, 2007


Well, Hilary and I are back from Vieques. Bummer. We were so enjoying lounging around in 80-degree, sunny weather. Now we're back in Minnesota, encountering teens and blowing snow. We are, however, extremely glad that we have this one last day off (Sunday) to regroup back at home before returning to school and work. We'll be posting more pictures from our trip as time goes on, but I'll post this one neat story from our return trip.

Most of you who read this blog know that I carry a knife with me regularly. Not just a small swiss army keychain knife with a nail file, but a 4" straight-edged lock blade made by Spyderco (the link is for the current model, mine's a few years old). I have carried one around since junior year in college, and find that its utility in my day to day life outweighs the odd remarks I sometimes get when I whip it out and flick it open it, one handed, in the space of about a second. I use it to open letters and packages, pull splinters, trim cuticles, strip wire, and as a fine probe. It has many other uses, including in emergencies.

Obviously, this isn't something that, even back in the day, would have been allowed through airport security. Therefore, it must be in my checked baggage, or I simply don't bring it on trips. I have actually had one disappear from my checked bag en route, but that's a different story entirely.

Anyway, suffice to say I had it with me on this trip - I peeled mangos with it, for instance, since the knives at La Finca left much to be desired. I won't get into all the details of our return itinerary, but in summary: us young'ens got back to San Juan airport in the middle of saturday morning, checked in with our respective airlines, and checked one bag apiece. Then we caught a cab to Old San Juan to kill a few hours before we went back to the airport to catch our mid-late afternoon flights.

The cab we returned in was in good repair, but my seatbelt was clearly having issues. When we pulled up to the drop off area, I found that I couldn't release the latch. Try as I might, it simply wouldn't let me go. The driver had no luck either. I could conceivably still extricate myself from the seatbelt by pulling some extra slack out and sliding underneath it. That is, I should have been able to pull some extra length out. However, the belt arrest mechanism, which prevents the belt from reeling out in an accident, engaged as I was playing around with the belt latch. Before I knew it, I didn't have enough slack in the belt to even continue play around with the latch. There are pictures of me in this predicament, which may or may not get posted in the future.

The cabbie was a good sport and, realizing that this was a serious problem, mentioned that he'd cut the belt if he had a knife. Well, as it so happened, I did have a knife and, after shimmying it out from my pocket under the seatbelt, whipped it open and sliced the belt. Freedom!

[As it happens, this means that my knife would be useful in case of a car accident - yet another good reason to carry it around]

By the time I got to the curb, however, I realized that the fact that I had my knife with which to free myself was a bit of a problem - we had already checked our bags hours ago! My knife had pulled me through in a real pinch, was I now going to have to relinquish it? Determined to keep it, I sought out the airport post office. You would think that, with the large number of items banned from airplanes, every airport would have a post office facility (or, at least, a self-serve kiosk) RIGHT NEXT to security, available for 24-hour, last minute shipping. However, this isn't the case. The San Juan airport has a post office but, alas, it is closed on Saturday and Sunday. What the Hell?

The airport does, however, have a Best Western Hotel and Casino. I was able to beg a hotel stationary envelope from the desk clerk and a few sheets of paper. Visits to three different souvenir shops yielded a place that sold postage stamps (at a 10% markup - is that even legal?). Next question: how much postage? It was a typical envelope, into which I was putting my several-ounce knife folded into a few sheets of paper (to keep the envelope from breaking). What's the postage for a several-ounce envelope? Is the postage from Puerto Rico the same as it is for the rest of the U.S.? I suppose I could have used my iPhone to look up the knife's weight online (from the mfg website), then the postage (from the USPS). But, I was in a hurry, so I just rounded it way up and put six stamps on it. Then, crossing my fingers, I slid it across the check-in counter at the casino/hotel and went back to find the rest of my group.

As it turns out, when I checked the USPS postage calculator this afternoon, I found that I was probably conservative by a factor of 2. That's fine - the extra postage is nothing compared to the replacement cost. We'll see if it makes it through.

1 comment:

Mark said...

We want to see the pix. We need to see the pix.