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The Trials & Tribulations of Being a 3oz Snow Globe
By Maureen Friedman
I have a very discerning palate for snow globes. Despite being a collector I do not ask people to bring them to me as a souvenir from their trips for two reasons: One, I am a snow globe snob. I need to see all of the options before choosing one. I do not collect the crappy plastic ones with the flat images that fade behind a haze of Chinese glitter. It needs to be made primarily of glass and resin, and furthermore the image inside the snow globe must be indicative of what the place actually looks like, or is at least it's image be scenically represented. The second reason I do not allow others to bring snow globes back to me from their own vacations, is that I feel it's dishonest to have a snow globe from, say, Zimbabwe if I myself have never been to Zimbabwe. (Never mind that they are all originally from Hong Kong....but I digress.) It's like having War and Peace on your bookshelf along with the Harry Potter series and a few Nora Roberts books. It smacks of half-hearted dishonesty.
So it should come as no surprise that on my recent trip to Disney World I had my eyes open for the perfect snow globe the entire time I was there. I evaluated each snow globe I encountered as I would a grapefruit: for durability as well as style and color. After I we satisfied that I had manhandled every single snow globe available for purchase in the whole of Orlando, I decided on one that would be unique among its cousins on my display shelf. It was really more of a statuette, in the likeness of Mickey in his famous sorcerer's outfit. In his raised hands he held a small snow globe, containing perhaps 3oz of water (or mysterious clear liquid produced especially for snow globes) at the very most. Inside the globe were the icons of each Disney theme park: The Tree of Life, The geodesic sphere, Cinderella's castle and Mickey's sorcerer hat. It perfectly encapsulates the grandest sites from each of the 4 parks and I felt satisfied with my decision.
When packing for my plane trip back to DC, I put all of my more fragile or valuable items safely in the backpack I was using as my carry-on luggage. I made the quick decision that since my new snow globe was fragile and yet did not contain more than 3oz of liquid, I should put it in the backpack for safe keeping, lest it be smashed in my roughly-treated, checked suitcase. Had I given it more thought I may have decided that TSA might take issue with such an item, but my attention was called for elsewhere (probably by some food item shaped like Mickey Mouse) and I forgot to further analyze the situation.
At the airport, I stood in the hot line of tourists waiting to get felt-up by the 300+ club of TSA agents. (300 indicating weight here, not age or salary.) My husband stood by my side, absentmindedly rubbing my back and staring off into the crowd of families. As We approached the body-scanner/metal detector/x-ray machines, O slipped off my pink sandals and placed my backpack in the large piece of Tupperware provided to me by a woman with a blonde mustache.
As expected, both my husband and I made it through the body-scanners without incident or need for frisking. I collected my shoes from the motorized belt but my backpack didn't make it through. The belt did a little jig, pushing my backpack out and in several times. A mid-30s man who weighed somewhere in the vicinity of 400 pounds grew an oily smile and fingered for a young, sweaty comrade to come take a look at the offending object.
There was a lot of pointing, some more seemingly pointless jerks of the belt, and finally after the confused young man agreed to whatever the larger man said so definitively, they both came over to me. The fat one holding my snow globe, the sweaty one holding my backpack.
"We are going to have to confiscate this, mam."
"We can't verify what the liquid contained in the object is."
"Yes but we can't verify that."
"It's under 3oz. I thought that would be ok. There might be more liquid left in my shampoo bottle than there is in that." I try not to sound like a smart-ass and end up with a panicky squeak instead.
"You can either let us confiscate the item, or take it back into the terminal to the airport Disney store and have them ship it to you. You're choice."
The realization that I was not actually going to succeed in convincing the large man to let me have my snow globe started to set in. I thought for a few seconds, weighing my options, while I rocked back and forth in my pink sandals. Tears started to line the brims of my eyes.
When I look up, there is a woman standing nearby, probably around 60 years old, looking at me with a genuine mix of pity and warmth that only a grandmother could get away with.
"Bob!" she hissed, smacking her husband with her handbag while still keeping her eyes on me. Bob ignores her mindless aggression and continues to wearily stare out into the terminal.
"Bob! They are taking that little girl's snow globe! How awful!"
I am thinking, does she mean me? I'm 25 years old. But before I can correct her I catch a glimpse of my reflection on the side of the shiny x-ray machine. Not only am I wearing pink shoes, but also a pink shirt featuring Winnie The Pooh. And to top it all off, 2 perfectly braided pigtails rest on my shoulders. And to think I thought people said I looked young because of my beautiful skin.
I dry my eyes and bravely tell the large man that I will bring it to the store so that they can ship it home.
As I sulkily walk passed the roped-off line of travelers, I notice that the line has gotten perceptively longer.
I enter the airport Disney Store, feeling unusually grumpy considering I am not only in a store (a place to SHOP!) but a DISNEY store for heaven's sake. Ignoring the colorful distractions on the shelves around me, I walk straight to the cash register.
"Hello, can I help you?" the cashier practically yawns at me.
"Yes. TSA wouldn't let me take this on the plane, but they said you could ship it to my house for me."
"Hmmm. Yep. Gonna be about $10 to ship though."
Ten bucks? Are you freakin kidding m?! It only cost $22 to begin with!
"Um, okay. That's fine I guess."
The cashier then picks it up, as if to verify its size and weight, presumably to make sure it wouldn't actually cost MORE to ship.
Until now, her sleepy, slightly drugged attitude has only mildly annoyed me. But then the snow globe slipped out of her lazily moving fingers.
"Oh no, don't tell me I just broke it." The haze that she seems to have been living in until now, begins to lift. She picks up Mickey's white resin hand. Looking at my angry face, she guiltily mutters an apology. Then she calls over her manager.
The two women confer for a few moments, taking turns looking at the broken piece and glancing at me worriedly. Finally, the manager turns to me and says, utterly without empathy, "We can tape the piece back on and waive the shipping fee, or give you store credit."
"Can you replace it?"
"No we don't carry snow globes at the airport store. To avoid confusion. But you can pick something else out with the same value."
I wanted to scream: I don't want or have time to choose something else! I want my snow globe! But I chickened out.
"Ok. Shipping it is fine. Just make sure you tape the piece well so it doesn't get lost."
Two weeks later, a small box appeared in my mailbox. I took out my poor, injured Mickey and superglued his hand back on. I placed him on the shelf with the rest of my snow globes, front row; because I wanted to show him that despite the cruelty and negligence of others, I still liked him just as much as I did before the TSA broke his spirit, and the cashier broke his fingers.