August 2017 Newsletter – ASNT President’s Message
Me, called out of the TSA line at the airport. Again. My over-stuffed laptop bag has been unceremoniously pulled out of the x-ray machine for what must be its hundredth “bag check” since I bought it a few years ago. This is a normal occurrence for me because of how I pack the bag, but I’m running a little late this time and I was hoping to avoid the encounter this time. 25 minutes until boarding. If bags had eyes, he’d look at me and roll them like a Gemini. “You brought this on yourself Wayne,” he’d say.
We have been through a lot, this bag and me. I’m very particular about my work accessories, and I chose this bag for very specific qualities – for one, it’s a TSA-grade laptop bag, which means the laptop side separates just enough from the rest of the bag that it can supposedly go through the x-ray machine with less fuss and without taking the laptop out of the bag. But I’m “that guy” who absolutely stuffs the bag full of cables and tools and gadgets and more cables, so when it goes through the machine, it looks more like a nova burst of constellations to the person behind the screen than a simple laptop bag.
So off to the TSA inspection table it goes.
“Is there anything in here that can poke me?” the TSA agent asks. “I have a screwdriver in the front-facing pocket behind the business cards,” I answer in my oft-repeated, almost rehearsed line. I’m a little worried about the time because my plane boards in about 20 minutes. They comment about how many cables and tools and gadgets I have. I agree; it’s for work. I know not to ask them to hurry because while TSA can be slow, you do NOT want to ask a TSA agent to hurry up. They remove the offending cables and prepare the bag to go through the machine again.
And then they remove something from the bag I wasn’t expecting. Something I had left in the bag but had not intended to travel with at all. And now I see that there’s only 15 minutes until boarding and I get really nervous.
It’s a judge’s gavel. Wait, that’s ASNT’s gavel. The gavel that Marie entrusted to me, and that was passed on to her. The one that I was going to get names engraved on. I had accidentally left it in my backpack and here I am at the airport and the TSA agent is eyeing me up and down while hefting this judge’s gavel in his hands, nudging his buddies like “hey boys, we got one.”
I play it cool, not letting on I’m nervous at all. I say “isn’t that the coolest thing? I was recently elected President of a non-profit here in North Texas that’s been around since 1972 and …” despite all the Leo charm I could muster, and despite trying to win them over with confidence… they would not let it through. They have a little mailer box where you can mail yourself things you accidentally left in your bag like a knife, but it was too big for that mailer box. My flight now was boarding in about 7 minutes. The charm seemed to work a little because I could tell the TSA agent was sad that he couldn’t help. He offered to help me get to the FedEx office right outside and walk me back in, bypassing security, but FedEx wasn’t open yet. He even called over the manager and gave me the number of the company who handles the objects to see if I could negotiate something with them, but he’s never heard of anyone getting anywhere with them.
So, one month in and I’ve managed to get ASNT’s gavel confiscated by an agent of one of the highest law enforcement agencies this nation has ever had. If that’s not a sample of the impact one person can have, I don’t know what is.
I’ll have a new gavel on order very soon.
As a reminder, the board still has openings for Programs Director, Publicity Chair and Technology Chair. You can learn more about these positions on our website at asntx.com under “About Us”.
ASNT President 2017-present