#1 Do not try and take a camping knife through airport security.
The TSA will not support you in your decision.
It wasn’t a gigantic knife like one of those bowie knives you can buy off the TV at 2 am for six easy payments of 19.95. This was a collapsible Buck knife; something I use exclusively for cutting tags off newly purchased items and removing stray threads from clothing.
I didn't even know I had it in my backpack.
So I go through security. They put my bag through the scanner. They stare at the television screen for a minute. Then they say they are going to scan it again. Then they call somebody else over to stare at the screen, and then somebody else. So now there are 3 different people looking at the contents of my tiny backpack on a small television.
Finally they tell me they are going to check my bag by hand. I readily agree having no idea what is so confounding to these experts in safety. After 4 seconds the agent finds what she’s looking for, excuses herself and walks back over to her team with her hand still in the bag like she had to keep it a secret.
Then an old bald TSA agent with a look on his face I can only describe as "assholeish" sauntered, and I mean that, sauntered over to me holding the knife. He then repeatedly tried to open the knife like he was a Jet or a Shark.
I suppose it didn't help that after watching him try this multiple times I said:
That’s not how it works.
I don't think he liked that. After measuring the length of the blade with his fingers, which is apparently the international way for determining danger, he just looked up and stared me in the eyes. As if to say;
Where is the criminal in there?
This guy, this safety “expert”, who just 5 minutes before I heard telling his coworker he couldn't figure out how to use his Blackberry didn't like the cut of my jib, or maybe he didn't like my jib at all.
And then he said:
Alright friend, it's a lost item.
Not, “you can go back and check it”, or “we have to confiscate this because you can't bring a KNIFE on a PLANE”.
I pretty much knew it was gone as soon as he pulled it out of my bag. I was done owning it.
And then I walked away scot-free and was allowed to board my plane. Though as soon as I landed in London and went through customs I was afraid they were going to take one look at me and scream, "KNIFE!" and then tackle me like I was in a rugby match.
But then I got angry because I realized that twice in the last 4 days I had brought that same backpack through security with that knife in my bag. That means I twice traversed airport security without them once noticing that knife.
#2 Do not pack one light colored suit for several days of meetings and do not eat really drippy dark colored fruit for breakfast.
I mean it’s pretty simple. I am apparently a man-child and I can’t have nice things because I can’t eat my food without also simultaneously wearing it.
So there I am eating my proper British breakfast, pot of tea, eggs, bacon, mixed berries. I’m exercising care to make sure that everything I do makes me look like an official businessman in London doing important business man things.
Until I look down and see the red splotch on my thigh.
Now I have no options here so I wet my napkin and start furiously blotting my pant leg using so much water that by the time I stand up 20 minutes later to head to my first meeting, it looks like I was hit by a water balloon. But the good news is the stain came out.
#3 Do not lay underneath a train
As I mentioned recently, in New York, there are a bunch of cryptic messages that come across on the loudspeaker while you are commuting. But in London they are a bit more direct.
While walking through a tube station on my way to the exit, I heard an announcement from a beautiful British female voice that said:
Due to a person underneath a train, there are delays on the Jubilee line.
UNDERNEATH A TRAIN? Are you kidding me? So seeing as trains sit on tracks, if somebody is underneath a train, they are also probably not alive. But of course, in that proper British lilt, it really makes it sound like not something that bad at all.
In New York, that just would have been:
Due to an earlier incident, trains are running at slower speeds.
The Brits don’t mince words.
#4 Do not drink all the tea they give you
I like to immerse myself in the local culture. In England, that means having a cup of tea whenever one is presented to you. Now when you stay in a hotel in the U.S. you have tea in your hotel room, but I never drink it. Maybe I will if I’m feeling zippy.
But in England it’s like a siren call. I feel the need to have a cup whenever I can. If somebody asks me if I want tea I am always saying yes. And they don't give you a cup, they give you an entire pot.
Which explains why I was running to the loo every 90 minutes.
#5 Do not sleep on a single bed
I have to be honest, even though in college I slept in a double bed (which was too small for me having had a queen bed my whole life, yes I know, spoiled) I had no knowledge that there was such a thing as a single bed.
It wasn’t until I walked into my room and sat down on my single bed (which was on wheels by the way) just how tiny such a thing is.
I couldn’t sit up in bed without the bed rolling away from the wall like I was at the starting line of a box car derby.
And lying in bed felt like I was trying to sleep on top of a Twinkie. If my legs had any distance between them, they would immediately start sliding off the edges of the bed so that I was straddling it like I was doing a horse trick.
So I spent my nights with all my appendages pressed together like I was about to be shot into space, which consequently I will probably never be allowed to visit because I would be the only idiot inadvertently trying to bring a knife on the spaceship.
Which is for the best, I’d probably just end up getting space fruit on my uniform anyway.