I had an appointment at City Hall and was running late. Dashed into the building and threw all my bags on the xray machine conveyor belt. Walked through the metal detector. Almost there.
"Ma’am, do you have a Swiss Army knife in your bag?"
I always have a Swiss Army knife in my bag and if I don’t have a Swiss Army knife, I have a Leatherman. How do people make it through the day without pocket tools? The last time one of my pocket knives was confiscated by airport security and I bought a new, more expensive model, I promised myself I’d have it forever.
"Ma’am, you can’t enter the building with the pocket knife."
"Can I leave it here with you and grab it on my way out?" Worth a try to ask.
"No, ma’am blah, blah blah." I was thinking of where I could go or who I knew in the area who wouldn’t mind babysitting my pocket knife for an hour or so.
Across from City Hall lies a Quizway or Subnos – one of those national fast "food" sandwich shops. I ran into the just opened store.
"Good morning," I said. "How are you?"
Bianca, the young woman behind the counter was very pleasant.
"Listen," I said. "I have kind of a bizarre request…" I proffered the Swiss Army knife. "Any chance at all you could hold on to this for just an hour while I duck into City Hall." I turned on my most winning smile. She remained pleasant, obviously used to crazy people.
"Sorry," she said. "The manager has strictly forbidden that we hold anything for anyone. It's store policy."
"So this happens a lot? People come in and ask you to hold onto stuff for them?"
"Oh yeah," she said. "All the time. All the time. Sorry, I would do it but…"
"How often? How often do people ask you to hold onto things?"
"And what kind of stuff?"
She giggled. "Oh, everything! One guy came in with a suitcase full of ‘razor blades’ and wanted us to hold on to them for him."
"A suitcase full of razor blades? And he told you that?"
"Yeah." She was still giggling. "I’m really sorry," she said again. "I would but the manager is really strict…"
I thanked her and ran outside, scanning the plaza. I was considering burying the knife in the soil of one of the huge brick planters until I could retrieve it when I saw the solution: the perfect Swiss Army knife hiding spot. The plaza has all kinds of smallish, unsealed electrical boxes (the wires are taped, if not capped) so I slid the knife into one of those and went back into City Hall.
When finished with my business, there was a part of me assuming the knife would be gone but lo and behold! it was still there.