Sometimes it just defies logic

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 3, 2006

Have you ever had those moments that just make you stop and wonder who in the world came up with that idea?

I had one recently when Martha and I were checking in at the Delta counter in Norfolk for a trip to New York City.

As you know Norfolk is a big military town. And when soldiers, sailors and marines are transferred somewhere they normally travel via commercial airliner.


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After I checked in, and as I was waiting for my wife to get her e-ticket out of the machine — which, by the way, kept saying she didn’t exist — I noticed a number of young men behind us with large cases carrying M-16s.

The cases are much like those one would purchase for transporting a regular rifle or shotgun — very hard plastic exteriors and enough room for the weapon and a few accessories.

These young men — not sure which branch of the service they were in because they were in civilian clothing — would lay their weapon case on the table in front of the Transportation Security Administration worker, open it up and then standby while it was inspected.

Along with the M-16, I saw as many as a half-dozen clips for bullets, although it didn’t appear they were loaded with anything.

What happened next struck me as odd.

The TSA worker, using a specially-treated piece of cloth, started swiping the interior of the gun case and the M-16 itself looking for explosive residue.

Now in the real world, if such a test were to come back positive, all hell would break loose and that part of the airport would proably be shut down and evacuated until a thorough investigation was done and the all clear sounded.

While I wasn’t privvy to the results of this test, I can only imagine that it was positive. What do they think they were going to find on a weapon that has more than likely been fired several hundred, if not thousands, of times?

It’s just one of those things that make me question the logic. It’s kind of like a story I heard — can’t speak to the validity of it, but I bet it’s true — about a group of U.S. Marines preparing to embark on a journey that would take them to the fighting in Iraq.

As they sat in a room waiting for their plane to begin boarding, a TSA employee gave them the standard “what-not-to-carry-onboard” speech.

They were told to leave fingernail clippers, pocket knives, nail files and other potentially deadly weapons behind because they were not allowed on the plane.

Once that part of the journey was over, the commanding officer told his men to start boarding.

And that’s exactly what they did, carrying with them M-16s, grenade launchers, bayonets and sidearms.

I simply defies all logic doesn’t it?

Don’t judge people by their appearance

While in New York City, I watched a man carrying two giant bags of aluminum cans stop in front of our restaurant, apprently taking a break from carrying them.

As he stood there, he pulled a cigarette out of his shirt pocket. Before he could light it, it fell out of his mouth and hit the wet pavement.

He then leaned over, picked it up and examined it. After determining it was no longer dry enough to light, I thought he would throw it back on the sidewalk.

To my surprise, he stepped over to the curb and disposed of it in a trash container. He then pulled another from his pocket, lit it, lifted up his bags and walked away.

There is something we could all learn from this man when it comes to littering.

Grant is the managing editor of the News-Herald. Contact him at, or call 934-9603