Look out! He’s carrying a harmonica!

USA TODAY has an article today about the lives of airport security screeners. Among the disclosures: A “suprising number of people” pack harmonicas in their baggage. That made me crack up because I’ve had several experiences on this front.

My weirdest experience in this area involved getting through security at the White House west gate some time in 1994 (I think). I was heading in for a news conference, but I had a gig as soon as the presser got over, so I had to haul my harps along. Through the X-ray machine they went. “What the hell is this?” the uniformed Secret Service screener said, laughing (remember, this was well into the pre-9/11 days and these guys saw me all of the time). I had to open the case for the security crew and they all ribbed me for carrying two dozen harps into the White House. But harmonicas aren’t a security risk (unless you consider being annoyed to death a security risk), so they let me bring ’em in.

I went to the news conference, hammered out a story in the White House press room, hopped in a cab and went to a dive college bar in Northeast (still wearing a suit) for the gig. That may have been the oddest collision of work and hobby I’ve ever had.


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