Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sky Marshal Story - Stupid Sky Marshal Tricks - #29

When the government suddenly decides it needs a Sky Marshal (aka Air Marshal) program and they hire over 1500 folks to fill the ranks lickety-split, no manner of background field investigations is going to weed out all the possible mischief-makers, fools and the unqualified.

Otherwise, who in their right mind would have hired a near-sighted, Berkeley graduate who’d never fired a pistol, or won a fist fight, to join an elite team of anti-terrorist operatives?

But hire me to be a Sky Marshal they did and while I didn’t apprehend any miscreants or prevent any skyjackings, I didn’t shame the force either. Well, at least, no one told me I did to my face.

Others were not so fortunate. Now, before I proceed, let me assure you that I participated in none of the high jinks I’m about to mention. And since I didn’t personally witness them either, they may well be myths. Well, some might. Others I’m pretty sure happened because the central characters disappeared quite abruptly.

In an earlier blog, I told you about the Sky Marshal who – while unloading his automatic pistol in Heathrow Airport – accidentally cranked off a round into the side of a metal filing cabinet…much to the everlasting joy of the Bobby who told me the story…twice.

However, my favorite “accidental discharge” story has to do with a sky marshal who fired off a round in an airplane bathroom while the plane was cruising at altitude. The story goes that he attempted to sneak back to his seat as if nothing untoward had happened. Unfortunately, even a 38 caliber-sized hole in an airplane’s skin leaks air so ferociously that air masks rained down on all the passengers like balloons dropping at a New Years party.

The source of the leak was quickly determined though no one immediately ‘fessed up. Nonetheless, as but one of only two people on board carrying a gun – not to mention the only one possessing a gun that had recently been fired – our boy was sacked upon landing.

How did it happen? He was reported to have told the investigators that the gun accidentally discharged as he was unbuckling his pants in order to use the toilet. If so, then how did the round exit the bathroom exactly at his waist height and directly to his side? My theory is that he was practicing fast draws in the mirror. Ooops!

I’ve mentioned the ease with which we – as US Customs Officers – could pass through the mandatory Customs luggage screening upon returning from overseas. Just showing the badge was enough to get us whisked through as the other passengers were shaking out their unmentionables. This phenomenon proved to be too tempting for one young man. A surprise inspect of his locker uncovered a suspiciously large number of brand new Rolex watches sans any related Customs declarations. I never found out what happened to him, or the Rolexes.

I also detailed one not-quite incident with a stewardess in an past blog that, despite the best efforts of an outraged In-Flight Purser, didn’t get me fired. Others were not so lucky.

The night porter at one European hotel which regularly housed the plane’s crew during stop-overs was alerted by irate, sleepless guests to the joyous noises emanating from a young stewardesses’ room. The Sky Marshal who answered the insistent knock on her door couldn’t produce a room key in that same, or any other, hotel. Thanks to his undeniable charms, the Sky Marshal was introduced to members of the local constabulary who no doubt envied his way with women as they locked him up for the remainder of the night.

Sadly, upon our boy’s return home, the Agent in Charge didn’t appreciate his brand new arrest record…even if it wasn’t written in English.

That’s enough for now and don’t forget to turn out the light.

© Stephen Rustad, 2008

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