I not-so-recently traveled from Philadelphia to Jacksonville, United flight 983, on December 4, 2006. I returned the following Thursday, December 7, 2006, United flight 916. Security level was HIGH that day, if I recall correctly. All this really means is that only small amounts of liquids, aerosols, and gels are allowed in a quart-sized clear plastic bag outside of your carry-on as you go through security. And of course the ever-popular removal of shoes, belts with buckles larger than a bottlecap, and watches of similar size. Funny how none of this is required when traveling through the UK...

Prior to these two flights, I had traveled to several other destinations within the country to serve as a computer support team member. In that role, we needed a variety of tools, which were typically shipped as cargo.

I happened to use one of the tools while I was in the office, and inadvertently placed the tool in the backpack I use traveling back and forth to work on a daily basis. It happens to also be the bag I use as my carry-on.

I passed through security for both flights without incident, and without shoes. I found a belt and watch that are security friendly, thank goodness. Bad enough I have to try to retrieve everything off the belt, and put everything back in my bag, shoes on my feet, and ticket somewhere safe; I don't need to attempt that all while keeping my pants from falling around my ankles.

It wasn't until I was preparing for my next non-work related trip that I cleaned out my bag and realized, with obvious horror (and subtly humorous amazement), that I had carried the item shown in the photo below through both legs of the trip.

Fortunately for myself, it wasn't identified by airport security. Unfortunately, it raises questions about the effectiveness of the security that causes so many problems for travelers.

If I can't bring along my nail clippers that have a blunt, ragged, 1" long floppy nail file, how could this particular item be 'OK'? Isn't this exactly the type of instrument used to take hostage of the planes used in the 9/11 attacks?