I’ve noticed, of myself, lately, that I never have a knife or a bottle opener handy, but I was once the guy who always had a knife or a bottle opener handy. That is generally true of archaeologists, and I used to be a full time archaeologist. Originally, I assumed that my lack of preparedness came down to that …. my ever increasing distance with involvement in archeology. But now, I realize this is not the case. It really is more a matter of National Security.

There is a link between the pocket, the belt-slung case or holster, the kit bag, and the backpack. They are all places where you might keep a folding knife, like a Swiss Army Knife. And that is where the ever-needed knife blade and the ever-needed bottle opener are to be found. The knife may be found in any of these places, and over time as one adjusts to circumstances — weekend vs weekdays, on the job, at the excavation, out to a movie, etc. — where the knife resides moves smoothly back and forth among these habitats.

Then one day you go to the airport and realize, too late, that your good Swiss Army Knife is in your back pack and you are trying to get on an airplane and since some assholes ruined air flight security years ago (even before 911, by the way) you can’t do that. The TSA takes your knife and you’ll never see it again.

That never happened to me, by the way. I’ve never had an item confiscated. But I did start pulling the knife (and other items) out of the material culture repository known as my pocket-belt-kitbag-backpack.

And for this reason I seem to never have a knife or a bottle opener handy.

But there is a solution to this problem, though I have not yet implemented it: Purchase a large number of small Swiss Army Knives at deep discount and put them around. Everywhere. Like in the glove compartment of the car, under the welcome mat on the porch, in any and all top drawers at home and work, and so on. Give them to friends so they may have them handy. Saturate your physical environment with low-cost Swiss Army Knives.

“But where do you get such deeply discounted Swiss Army Knives?” you may ask.

Well, I figured with all the Swiss Army Knives and other items (including, by the way, snow globes) being confiscated every day at airports around the country, there MUST be an outlet for these items, at discount. No way are they melting them down and turning them into plow shares. No way are they holding them, putting a label on each one, and assuming the owners will come back for them. No, I figured, one way or another … above or below board … these items are for sale somewhere, and it must be at a good discount.

So I did a little digging. Here is a list of places where you can buy items confiscated by the TSA. This might change over time. Each state does it its own way. (source)

Alabama and Florida Airports sell confiscated items on eBay (seller ID: alstatesurplus)

Georgia Airports: Atlanta sell at Atlanta Surplus Center, 770/414-6468, Swainsboro Surplus Center, 478/289-2623, and Americus Surplus Center, 229/931-2407.

Illinois Airports sell at auctions. Check out ibid.illinois.gov

Kentucky Airports sell on eBay (seller ID: kysurplus)

Oregon Airports sells at eBay (seller ID: oregontrail2000)

Pennsylvania Airports:sell on eBay (seller ID: pastatesurplus)

Texas Airports sell at Austin Storefront in Austin, Phone: 512/463-1990

Washington State Airports sell at Auburn Retail Store in Auburn, 253/333-4912

If you are looking for larger or more elaborate items, or luggage, people’s lost luggage and its contents is on sale on the web site for Unclaimed Baggage Center.

Happy shopping.


  1. #1 Rob
    July 3, 2008

    It’s really sad at archaeology conventions. Everyone used to have bottle openers. Now, everyone is asking their neighbor, and only the folks that live in the conference vicinty have ’em

  2. #2 Umlud
    July 3, 2008

    If you need to carry around a bottle opener, why not purchase a bottle-opener ring?


  3. #3 Alan Kellogg
    July 3, 2008

    What’s really sad about this situation is that don’t recognize how harmful this infantile, controlling behavior is. People won’t see past the small cost to them in monetary terms to the huge cost to society in cultural terms. People don’t see it as worth their time to make a fuss about bottle openers and penknives.

    “First they confiscated the penknives, but I didn’t complain because penknives are cheap…”

  4. #4 themadlolscientist
    July 3, 2008

    Bah. Humbug. It’s totally nuts.

    A friend of mine who’s a stained-glass artist insists on carrying her tool kit on the plane with her whenever she flies, to make sure it doesn’t get lost with her luggage. Several years ago she was about to get on a flight to the US from the UK, and they confiscated a screwdriver (but nothing else) out of her kit. Go figure.

    Honestly, she could have sone a lot more damage with what was left.

    Then there was the time my mom went to Hawaii, and they confiscated a little tiny pair of scissors from her sewing kit. Seriously, she could barely cut thread with them.

    WTF. Shows how much Homeland Insecurity knows………

  5. #5 themadlolscientist
    July 3, 2008

    p.s. I’ve been told that the way to get around the confiscation of “dangerous” items is to go to the Brookstone shop that’s usually inside the secure area. It seems like half the time you can see the place from the security checkpoint. You could do some serious damage with some of the stuff you can get there.

    Fucking stupid Homeland Insecurity.

  6. #6 chezjake
    July 3, 2008

    Even better than the bottle opener ring — try the BevKey – right on your key ring all the time. http://www.bevkey.com/

  7. #7 the real cmf
    July 5, 2008

    The first time I was arrested on charges that were dropped immediately (because I lawyered up, and later, my false accuser was seen as the fraud they were) they took my Leatherman multi tool, and called it a “burglary tool” in the police report.
    The second time I was arrested, on false charges (because I asked for a lawyer immediately) they took my nail clippers with a 1.5″ blade atteched–and called it a ‘burglary tool’ in the police report.
    The third fourth fifth…..same deal, charges dropped in 24 hours or less because I asked for a lawyer( it really sucks to always be the white guy who gets profiled for having black/arabic/middle eastern/Indian friends, etc)
    Last time, when the security guards ordered me to “stop–this is my sidewalk!” while I was walking home late night and I asked them if they were MPD or not–and called them what they were ‘ your just security guards’, they tasered me in the back, and patted me down while handcuffed, took my new Gerber multi-pliers out of the pouch and said “looks like we tell MPD that you were going for your weapon….”…I just thought to myself ” what my country needs is more fearful white liberals who believe we actually need more police on the street…” and who believe that racial profiles only fit black faces…

    but I always make sure my pockets are clean when I get on a train or an airplane because I expect harassment there when crossing borders–foreign borders, where the police state is not so entrenched in the minds of the fearful…

  8. #8 the real cmf
    July 5, 2008

    …which is why I always carry a small Maglight on my key chain, but altered by changing the bulb from a standard bulb, to a laser bulb capable of igniting flamables from 25′ away, or burning the eyes out of security personell…

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    July 5, 2008

    security guards for what company?

  10. #10 the real cmf
    July 6, 2008

    Wolf Security, owned by a little turd named Troy Nadeau from the Northern ring suburbs who hires cowardly quasi law enforcers who can’t make the grade in actual coppery, and who make their reps by assaulting people in the middle of the night, and file false reports stating that the victims of their crimes “took offensive posture” when violated by them…

    The incident, currently going to trial, occurred in front of the downtown MPLS Greyhound depot, where they routinely racially profile, harass and assault citizens. The guard said “what is a white guy like you doing here anyways? I said ” I live here M—-r F—-r and you are on camera (so-called “Safe Zone” cameras…harharhar)

    The only good news so far? Me, standing up for my rights, caused the Greyhound to install 2 cameras in the exact area where I was assaulted by those guards. Which, literally translated means “relatively fewer black males will be assaulted while pursuing their late night bad habits, because one white guy knew his rights, and stood ground…

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    July 6, 2008

    Good for you, c.

  12. #12 Stephanie Z
    July 6, 2008

    Yeah, what Greg said. Keep us up to date on the trial?

  13. #13 the real cmf
    July 8, 2008

    TX Greg…Steph, sure…if I can stand to talk about it. There is always this looming fugue of fear that the police state, the indoctrinated minions, etc. will all conspire to do even more injustice. I have the faintest, remotest hope that the one guy who didn’t tase me will tell the truth in court,; that the cameras caught it; that the witnesses will show up.

    So far, only the crackheads and late night block bandits are my only witnesses–those few who have been blackened by both race and their own ‘records’.

    My favorite witness comment so far? “I came up and saw you get tased man! I asked this one dude ‘who did they shoot down?’ And when he said ‘some white guy, I just kept moving…I did’nt know that was you man…”

  14. #14 mizerman
    April 15, 2011

    I love how TSA is selling confiscated items. Good ole capitilism at its best. Yeah I think having a few extra pocket knives around can without a doubt be handy. You can definitely find some cheap ones out there. When it comes to homeland security, they should know you can pretty much make a weapon out of anything.