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Of Purses And Public Buildings

I almost never carry a pocketbook. I really despise carrying a pocketbook. This day, because of too many errands to not, I had to carry a pocketbook.

Inside mine are a few common-to-handbag items: make-up, keys n wallet, sunglasses, pens. It also contains cameras, flashlights, a digital recorder, and beaucoup batteries. Plus, two screwdrivers -- the tool, not the drink. Don’t judge me. If I were a guy, no one would think anything of me toting around a full-size Philips and flat blade -- unless as a guy I was toting them around in a pink purse, in which case, yeah, I can see some judgment there.

All right, so I’m in the Albemarle General District Courthouse to find someone.

I walk up to the two Sheriffs? Deputies? whatever-they-ares -- I don’t think I’ve come across either gentleman before -- at the metal detector and hold out my portable pouch for them.

Before they even touch it, I say “There’s nothing in my purse I can bring in there” gesturing to the closed door that leads to the courtroom. “Can you just look through it then stick it in the corner?” I motion to the place on the floor off to the side where other officers have allowed me to store the cumbersome object in the past. The two men stare at me like I’ve asked them if I have snot oozing out of my nostrils.

As neither Officer Sit nor Officer Stand make a move to take and examine it, I deposit the purse on their table next to their tiny plastic bucket and explain “There are screwdrivers in it. And I know I can’t bring those into the courtroom.” Now it seems I’ve told them my snot is radioactive.

They refuse to let me leave my as-yet-to-be-probed purse behind -- something about it being against a rule; one which, they inform me when I inquisitively press them, happens to have been made this very morning! Gee.

At this point Officer Sit opens my carryall and pokes around. It makes no sense why he’s bothering now since it’s clear that not only can’t I bring it in there, neither can it stay out here. The act does, however, instantly give me an idea. “Hey! While y’all go through the bag, ya know before you tell me I can’t take it in there, I’m just gonna check to see if the person I’m looking for is in the courtroom, mkay?” With that, I pass through the metal detector.

Obviously I don’t set it off. Though I guess Officer Stand isn’t expecting the silence because he concurrently moves to block my path once I’m through. This time it is I who searches their faces for radioactive snot.

I mean, I’ve made it a point to not only let the uniform-clad duo know about the contraband, but also that I do not want -- in any way, shape, or form -- to bring it, or even the container it’s in, inside the courtroom. The metal detector isn’t bleating that I’m concealing anything, let alone a weapon, therefore what the hell is the problem?

I justifiably ignore Officer Sit and Officer Stand, rotate the doorknob and peek at the courtroom. Every Law Enforcement member in the place fixes eyes on yours truly. As does Commonwealth Attorney Denise Lunsford -- who, by the way, moments earlier had taken the long route to get into the building just so she could say “hello” to little ol’ me. But I don’t spot the right person.

I let the portal shut, reverse through the security device, smile at the matched set, retrieve my belongings, and sashay away.

A short time later, I find out Lunsford and the rest of the court folks are all in a tizzy because OH MY GOD SHE WAS TRYING TO SNEAK SCREWDRIVERS INTO THE COURTROOM!


On the one hand, maybe, maybe, if these people didn’t treat others as badly as they do, they wouldn’t have all that pent-up paranoia. On the other hand, isn’t it absolutely hilaridiculous?