Chapter 11, 44 Cherry Street

Sunny and Tom were planning a short vacation over Labor Day weekend: a long weekend in New York to visit Sunny’s adult children.  As they ate their dinner in front of the window facing Cherry Street, they discussed the trip. Their apartment overlooked the new location for Art from the Heart, a shop they loved, and Sunny declared that while they were in New York City, she hoped they would have time to visit a few galleries and flea markets. Tom loved art and antiques as much as Sunny and he readily agreed. 

Tom jokingly declared, “ By the way, please tell your daughter that I am bringing a knife on the plane. I received special permission from Delta.”

Tom sharpening his knife before the trip. Would you mess with this man?

Tom sharpening his knife before the trip. Would you mess with this man?

This was a standing joke between them. Tom was so accustomed to carrying a pocket knife, that he somehow managed to forget he was carrying one, and he would inadvertently take a knife with him. He would get stopped at security every time they flew. 

The first time that happened, the couple were at the  Newark Airport, returning from New York. Tom’s knife was found at security, and he was told to either check it or hand it over to the authorities. Tom loves his knives. This one was a Laguiole pearl-handled knife he had bought in France, and he didn’t want to throw it away. Sunny offered to place the knife in her purse and pay to check her handbag to get the knife back to Asheville. The desk clerk wrapped the purse in duct tape, put a tag on it, and off it went.

The next time it happened, they were going to Hawaii on a 6 AM flight out of Charlotte. It was still dark when they arrived at the airport. Sunny made it through security in spite of low caffeine levels, and when she looked around, she saw Tom in conversation with a guard. What was he doing? After a heated discussion, Tom called out that as he had no alternative to handing over the knife that somehow had made its way to the airport in his pocket, he was going back to the car to put it in the glove box.

“Are you kidding me?” Sunny demanded. “Our flight leaves in no time! How can you get back to the car in the remote parking lot and still be back here and through the long lines at security in time?”

Tom didn’t even respond, but rushed toward the doors of the airport. Sunny was beside herself. What was Tom thinking? She had no choice but to head towards the gate, stop for an enormous coffee at Starbuck’s, and worry. What if he missed the flight? Would she go to Hawaii alone, or could she change their tickets for a later flight?

The more coffee she drank, the more worried she became. She couldn’t sit still but paced back and forth, wondering how to handle this situation. The ticket counter was open at the gate, and people were lined up to make last minute requests before boarding. She kept watching the long hallway to see if she could spot Tom, but as time marched on, he did not appear. 

Finally, she couldn’t stand it a second longer. She would certainly not go to Hawaii without Tom. What would she even do when she arrived? Tom had lived in Hawaii before he moved to Black Mt., and they were renting a car and driving to the home of good friends of his in Honolulu, where they would be staying. She would just have to wait for him there if she boarded this flight without him. And she didn’t want to fly all those hours without him beside her. She grabbed her carry-on bag and wheeled it back up the long hallway to security, hoping to spot Tom in the crowd moving towards her. 

No such luck. She got all the way to security and still didn’t see him. Their flight was already boarding and he was not back. 

But wait! There he was about ten people back in the line to get though the security screening. He spotted her and waved sheepishly. 

Finally, he was through the check-point and the two of them raced down the hall towards the gate, weaving through the crowds of people strolling toward their own gates. 

The waiting area for their flight was almost empty because boarding had been going on for some time. Luckily, theirs was a big plane and people had way too much stuff to jam into the overhead bins, so boarding was slow. They hopped on the end of the line and were soon in their seats. When he could catch his breath, Tom told the story of what had happened.

When his knife had been discovered by the big security guard, Tom was instructed to hand it over. He did not want to hand it over. It was one of his favorite pocket knives and a gift from Sunny. The guard insisted. Tom had asked if there was a way to mail the knife to his home. Was there a postbox in the airport? Was there any alternative at all to handing over his prized possession?

“Absolutely not!” the guard had snapped, and he had reached out his hand to snatch the knife. 

This grabby attitude rubbed Tom the wrong way. No way was this guy getting his knife. With Sunny’s whiney voice calling out to him, “No! We’ll miss the plane!” Tom set out on a run.

Luck was with him, though. When he dashed out the doors of the airport, he stepped right into an empty remote parking shuttle bus. When he told the driver what had happened, the guy took sympathy on Tom.

“Look,” he said. “It’s still early and there aren’t many people needing rides from the remote lots. I’ll just take you to your car, you throw in the knife, and I’ll bring you right back to the airport.”

Luckily, Tom had written down where on the lot they had left their car, and the mission was accomplished in short order.

Back at the airport after the high-speed bus ride, Tom had to line up again for security. As he was showing his boarding pass and ID to the first cluster of guards, the woman checking his documents asked, “Didn’t you already go through security this morning?”

Tom told her about his knife and his trip back to the car. 

“Why didn’t you just stick it in an envelope and mail it to yourself?” she asked. 

“What? Where?” Tom stammered, as his eye followed her pointing finger to a mailbox nearby. “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

It was a good thing the burly guard was no longer screening passengers, or there might have been a scene, and they would have missed the flight for sure. The mystery of why the guard had lied about the availability of mailboxes and had coveted Tom’s knife would forever remain unsolved.

“Yeah,” kidded Tom. “I sure enough got the okay to carry a knife aboard our flight to New York. Do you think they’d mind if I stuck one of those in my belt?” He pointed to the rack of antique, razor sharp Samarai Swords on the dining room wall. He had been collecting them for years.

“Do not kid about something like that!” Sunny demanded. “You might just do it!”

But then the image of him striding through the airport with a three foot long sword through his belt made her laugh. “And no guns, either!” she laughed.