Honesty is the worst policy

Having a hobby, especially a creative one, can teach you a lot of lessons: about perseverance in learning a skill, about confidence in your abilities, about the value of your time. Knitting and spinning have taught me to challenge myself, to learn new things, and to accept imperfection. They have taught me patience and gratitude. Yesterday, my favorite hobby taught me that honesty will get you nowhere, and that sometimes the best thing to say is nothing.

My Christmas present from my mother this year was a season pass to one of the numerous theme parks in Southern California. I had until the end of the year to go there and turn my emailed voucher into a plastic card good for the entire year of 2018, so I finally made the trip this weekend. I drove down with my boyfriend (A) and his daughter (S), to make a family day of it. I brought my backpack to easily carry the things I’d need: purse, hat, extra socks, a box of tissues (I’m getting over what is either the worst cold or the mildest flu I’ve ever had), and of course, a knitting project.

Theme parks mean lines. There’s not much getting around it*; when you have 30 rides and 20,000 people, that’s just the way it works out. Fortunately, I have just such a thing to occupy myself during boring wait times. (I mean, something aside from the glowing rectangles we all carry in our pockets.) Knitting has gotten me through a lot of times when I would just be waiting around, bitching about how much it sucks to have to wait around.

I had considered bringing my Harvest sweater, since it’s pretty much just autopilot stockinette at this point, and I’d love to have that thing finished by the time I go back to school next week. I also have a scarf I’m working on, which I definitely would have brought (it’s much more portable), except it’s for S and I’d like to surprise her with it. In the end, I decided my Speckled Space Socks would be the best WIP for a day where I’d be doing a lot of standing around, being herded like cattle. Out of habit, I also took my Folca box, which is a portable three-tiered pill case that holds all my knitting notions.

We had to wait in five lines before we could even get into the park. The fourth line was the security screening, where I made the mistake that I’d end up regretting: I decided to be up-front, and let the screener know I had a knitting project. I’ve done this every time I’ve flown, and I have never had a problem. TSA agents, for all the smack we talk about them, are at least smart enough to see that a half-finished knitted object, with yarn attached, is probably not going to be used as a weapon. They may also understand that a knitter who is happily involved in a project, is going to have far fewer homicidal thoughts than one who has had his or her knitting confiscated. Idle hands, the devil’s work, and all that.

The Barney Fifes at this theme park (which I’m not going to name, but you could probably already tell isn’t Disney, which is known for competence and professionalism) were apparently not quite up to the standards of TSA screeners. Two of them had to puzzle over my project before they decided my knitting was unsafe to bring into the park. I asked if I could leave it with them, or at the security office, and collect it when I left. They told me my only option was to bring it back to the car. Since that would have taken another hour out of our day, I just left it at the screening station, hoping that the odds would be on my side and it would still be there at the end of the night. (The odds were not in my favor. They had thrown it away.)

That alone is galling enough. But what really irritates me is that I know it would have gotten through security if I had just shoved it in the bottom of my bag, or wadded it up inside my long-sleeved outer shirt, or even just put it in the back pocket of my backpack. They didn’t even open that pocket, or they would have also confiscated the Luna bars and gummy candy. I wasn’t trying to sneak those in, I just packed them for the car ride and never ended up eating them. Outside food and drink are specifically listed on the “prohibited items” posters, and you’d think they’d be a lot more concerned about that, since it directly cuts into their bottom line. No one’s going to pay their astronomic prices for sub-par refreshments if they can get away with bringing their own.

I could have dealt with the loss of the needles and the project. I wasn’t in love with the yarn. The socks I’ve been slogging away on forever, because they don’t really hold my interest, they’re just more interesting than standing in lines. I’ll have to replace the needles, which will cost me about $50 since they’re DyakCraft Heavy Metal. (There’s another lesson for me: if I do bring my knitting out with me again, put it on cheap, easily-replaceable needles I won’t mind losing, not hand-crafted high-quality tips that are part of a set.) I was prepared to eat that loss, even though I think it’s completely asinine that I couldn’t have just left it with park security.

The worst part of all this is that I also lost my damn Folca box. I should have just left it at home, but I always grab it and toss it in my to-go knitting. So now I’m out a ton of stitch markers (including the tiny Yoth Yarns ones I absolutely love, and some really cute souvenir ones), all my darning needles, almost all of my coilless safety pins, and my tiny snippers. Losing those is a real pain in the ass, because it took forever to find scissors that would fit into that case in the first place. When I went to Stitches South back in 2015, it was by far the thing I was most excited to bring home. I’m looking at maybe another $50 to replace all that stuff – if I’m lucky.

If there’s any bright spot to be had in all this, it’s that at least the park isn’t going to be getting any more money out of me. I will probably go back; for one thing, I want to ride some more extreme rides than A and S were comfortable with, and my sister (who also got a season pass) will be happy to do that. My admission is already paid for and includes parking; since it’s already been demonstrated how trivially easy it is to bring in outside nourishment, there’s no need for me to even bring my wallet next time I go.

There’s also the fact that they were able to teach a teenager a couple of pretty valuable lessons: that the federal government is far more competent and intelligent than private enterprise; and that no matter what the situation, it really doesn’t help to be honest, and authority figures are not to be trusted. I think it’s much better to learn that lesson at 14 than at 35.

*Except, of course, to spend another $50 on top of the nearly $100 you spend just to get in the gate, for a special pass that gets you to the front of the line at most of the attractions. Which I have no doubt, if I complain to the park, is exactly what they’ll try to sell me.