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Mistakes: The Trip from Hades, Pt. 1

The second job that I ever assisted Joe on was a portrait for AARP in Washington D.C. The subject was a lawyer who had taken up pottery in his retirement. This being the second shoot I'd been on with Joe, I was still getting the hang of packing gear in the Suburban... Still learning the best place for each item to go. Location work being what it is, we had to park about half a block away from the pottery studio and walk the gear over. Of course, it also started pouring the rain.

This meant that I had to walk back and forth from the studio to the truck, in the rain, to retrieve gear that I had forgotten to bring on the initial trip. Multiple times. One of these items was a knife. The cameras have these L-brackets on them that partially cover the USB port, making it difficult to access when shooting tethered, and thus requires a knife to pry it open. "Hence", Joe informed me, "the knives always travel with the cameras." Okay, point taken.

The shoot went well, and Joe worked his magic to create what looked like daylight pouring in through the studio screen door when it was anything except sunshine and kitty cats outside.

From D.C., we continue traveling and begin working on the NCAA Basketball preview issue of Sports Illustrated. Seven colleges over the course of about two or three weeks to do portraits of the "big freshmen."

Fast forward a week or two, and Joe and I are flying to a different city every other day. This was a new experience for me, seeing that I'd flown a total of three times in my life before this trip.

We're going through security at Salt Lake City Airport one early morning, en route to Tucson, when the TSA agent pulls my camera bag (Joe and I each traveled with one) and says he needs to look through it. Sure, whatever. Nothing out of the ordinary...

So, he begins digging through it, and pulls out a knife. A Leatherman to be exact.

TSA Agent: "Sir, did you realize this was in here?"

Me: "Oh, crap. I wasn't even thinking about it..."

The searching of the bag continues... He pulls another knife. Swiss Army. Suspicious look...

TSA Agent: "Sir, is there anything else in here I should know about?"

Me: "Um... I think there might be one more."

Yep. Another Leatherman.

Me: "Just a second, let me get my boss. He's coming through the other line." I turn around. "Joe..."

TSA Agent: "Sir, is this your bag?"

Joe: "Yeah...?"

TSA Agent presents knives.


Me: (very sheepishly) "But... You said the knives... always travel... with... the cameras...?"

At this point, I think the TSA Agent realizes it's an honest mistake and explains our options. They can either confiscate the knives, or they will allow us to ship them back home via the Hudson News right next to security that happens to sell packaging, stamps, and ship things.

So Joe goes over to package them up and ship them home, while I sit down and feebly attempt to tie my shoes with trembling hands. There is a kind gentleman sitting beside me who saw everything and tries to assure me that it'll be okay.

I finish putting my shoes back on as Joe comes back over, and we begin walking toward our gate. I'm not really sure what to do or say, so I muster up enough courage to glance over and say, "I'm so sorry."

That's when Joe just begins laughing. LAUGHING! After I almost got arrested.

I'm slightly befuddled as to why he's laughing and not yelling at me. He explains that he's pulled his share of bonehead moves during his career, so he has to have patience and be forgiving. The only thing you can do is learn from your mistakes and move on.

I finally muster a bit of a smile and we make our way to the gate. Little did I know that before the trip was over, I would test his patience, grace, and forgiveness as much as humanly possible...


posted by Brad @ 1:14 AM,


At July 16, 2008 at 4:18 AM, Anonymous Andy Tan said...


This is the sort of mistake I seem to be prone to. I guess being able to shrug it off is a learned skill.

New Zealand

At July 16, 2008 at 7:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny story. Thanks for writing it. Embrace every mistake you make and note you will never make more then me.

At July 16, 2008 at 7:51 AM, Anonymous Terry Reinert said...

That is a great story... It is good to see that everyone has issues like this at times. One time I made it through airport security in Orlando with a knife in my camera bag that I forgot I had but on the return trip from Albuquerque they found it. What moronic thing did I say? "Oh, wow, they didn't find that in Orlando!" That got me one of those "so, you've done this knowingly before, eh?" looks. Just when I thought they were going to break out the rubber gloves they decided it was an honest mistake and let me through minus the knife.

Great post... looking forward to the rest!

At July 16, 2008 at 10:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to know we are all just a little bit human -- try going into a Court House with a pocket knife you forgot was in your purse!!! Looking forward to your next post.
thanks kathyt

At July 17, 2008 at 6:14 PM, Blogger amy said...

One time I was flying with my dad. He had some kind of special screwdriver in his computer bag and they gave him the same options they gave you with the knives. He was like, "Are you serious? It's a piece of junk. Just throw it away."

That story has nothing to do with anything, but I haven't seen my dad since Thanksgiving, so I'm telling it anyway.

At July 28, 2008 at 12:21 PM, Blogger Ian said...

heheh I have done the same thing, leatherman in camera bag.

Good to see Joe's laid back style is always present and not just "for show"

At August 2, 2008 at 4:30 PM, Blogger Karyn said...

Love it. Where's the rest of the story? :) Hope all is well...I've enjoyed reading through your and your boss's blog to see what you've been up to...I forget how ridiculously talented you really are. :)



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