August 09, 2012

Lesson 26: You Can't Take What, Where?

The folks of my generation learned from Ben Stiller's mistake. "You can't say "bomb" on an airplane."

But what about tape measure?

Have you ever heard that a tape measure is also a potentially dangerous device to take on a flight with you?

The guards at the UAE airport certainly think so. So emphatically do they believe that a tape measure is a flying hazard, that they forced a poor, innocent girl (me) to throw hers into the trash can upon entering their country.

Have you ever had to throw out your tape measure at an airport?

Well, if you have, then I am sure my reaction will come as no surprise to. That's right, I cried my eyes out.

If my response does surprise you, let me ask you this. Have you ever been the owner of a Virginia Tech Engineering Tape Measure? If you answer yes, then you are mostly likely either Nikki Jebson or Rowena C. Crabbe, because as far as I am aware, these are the only other two people I know who have ever owned such a tape measure and cared.

I know, because we received them at the same time, in 2005, at the VT Engineering tailgate at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fl. How did the three of us (two business and one public relation majors) get into this tailgate? Let's just we knew a guy.

(This guy may or may not have been Nikki's awesome grandpa.)

So enamored by these tape measures were we, that they became our constant companions for the duration of the Bowl trip. Many a' football players' biceps were measured with those tape measures. Oh college.

But that's not all. Turns out this group of three girls would end up being some of the most extensive world travelers I've ever met. Just after receiving them, these VTE tape measures were responsible for measuring the height of the Eiffel Tower, the length of the Great Wall, and the width of the Indian Ocean.

Though the three of us graduated college and continued to travel on our own in the subsequent years, "measuring the world" was a constant reminder of our shared love for an adventure.

Thus, perhaps if you were confused before, you can now understand why I was so upset to be losing my sacred tape measure in such an undignified way.

Thankfully, my dad and I had almost a full 24 hours of layover in this airport. Plenty of time to appeal to the higher authorities of airport security.

And that's just what we did.

Through the aid of a translator, I did my best to explain just how meaningful said tape measure was and what a grave injustice was being committed in simply tossing it out with all the razor blades, barbed wire, and toothpaste tubes weighing over 3 ounces.

With great persistence and some intense looks from my brave father, we prevailed. The most senior employee made a phone call to the underling at gate patrol. It was a bit of sweetness when the originally uncaring patrol officer had to reach his uniformed arm into the bin to retrieve my tape measure.

And yet, more importantly, this extensive of my arm was returned safely into my keeping.

Though there was still some trickery involved getting the tape measure securely back into the states, it did make it and has continued to measure the important moments of my life.

Of course these days, those important moments include hanging pictures over Samara's bed and figuring out where to drill a hole for Hudson's giraffe hook. Not much world traveling going on now that there are three full plane tickets to purchase and four passports to figure out. However, I'm not sure these measurements matter any less, they are just different. They simply indicate new adventures.

Lesson Learned: There are many words (and objects) other than bomb that are forbidden on an airplane. 

This picture was taken in Dublin, Ireland in 2008. It was very important at the time. I don't quite know what it means, but it sounds important and that's worth something.


  1. I love reading your blog!! :) so insightful. Hope you and your family are doing well!.
    -carla jo

    1. Thanks Carla! I think Rhetorical Tradition is really helpful as far as this blog is concerned!!! Haha! Thanks for commenting! Keep it up!!!!


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