A few months ago, I had the coolest little travel alarm clock in the world. It was the size of a golf ball, but half the thickness. It was cut from a solid piece of stainless steel and it had a rotating bezel of timezones. When you spun the bezel around, it would automatically adjust the hour hand to the timezone you selected. Restoration Hardware used to sell them, but they don’t anymore. You might be asking, “Why would you be in the market for another one?”
I need another one because one of this government’s finest TSA agents broke my other one, that’s why.
He fished it out of my bag because it looked suspicious on the X-ray.
I’ll grant them that because after all, it’s basically a timer in a steel cylinder so I suppose it might look a little “bombish” on their radar. Still, that doesn’t mean they get to abuse my property, right? This monkey pulled the clock out and showed it to me, then proclaimed, “It’s ticking.” “Yes,” I said, “That’s right genious, it’s a clock so it does tick from time to time. It TOCKS too if you listen carefully.” Then, he proceeded to BANG the clock on the table, “BAM BAM BAM” where the crystal face was forced loose before he finally smashed the hands.
“Why?” I looked at him, incredulously, with a furrowed brow and beads of sweat and anger forming on my brow. “Why would you do that?” After all if it WERE a bomb, would banging it on the table be a wise thing to do? He said, “Had to make sure it weren’t hollow!” I replied, “It’s useless now, you broke it.” He told me there were some forms I could download from the TSA website if I wanted to fill out a claim. Angrily, I told him I’d certainly do that.
So, it turns out there is indeed a form. Here’s a link to it, in case you ever need it. Be advised: you should write down as many names as possible while you’re there. Also, try to get a witness (there’s a place on the form for that) and write down the security gate you were in at the time. You can’t submit the form online; you’ll have to mail or fax it. You should receive an acknowledgement letter from TSA within three weeks if you submit the claim by USPS (within 6 days if submitted by fax). This letter will include a TSA control number and instructions. Use this control number to check the status of your claim, or for any other communications with the TSA Claims Management Branch.
Since the incident, I have purchased a new alarm clock. I also noticed, curiously, that 90% of the clocks I found on line were encased in stainless steel! I found a very nice one from Dalvey. Here’s a picture of it. This one has a steel case that folds over the clock face so even the x-ray machine can’t betray the clock inside. So far, they’ve left it (and me) alone.
Thank God my iPod doesn’t tick… can you imagine? “BAM BAM BAM…”
EXTRA: If you have questions for Ken regarding business travel, hotels, airplanes, etc, please call 1-877-49-EXPERT. Your questions will be recorded and Ken will answer the best ones in his Ask the Expert podcast show.