In what she probably thought would either be a funny joke, an interesting political statement, or an art project, a college student at MIT in Boston went to Logan airport to meet someone arriving and got herself in a little trouble. She decided to dress for the part, that’s for sure – she apparently showed up with something that looked like a “device” on the outside of her shirt, and some play-doh in her hand. She told officers that she was displaying “art.” And that it was part of a course.
When the police showed the sweatshirt Simpson was wearing it didn’t look anything like a bomb. It was a 9 volt battery plugged into a fake circuit board pasted on the back, with the words “socket to me” and “Course VI.” The circuit board didn’t even look real, but you can imagine some being very concerned. Alot of people at airports are often on edge anyway.
I was in the airline business for a few years, and have seen quite a few different outfits show up. I worked at LAX, LAS, and other high volume airports. Still, I don’t remember anyone wearing a fake bomb. Thins is the same city that went on full freak-out mode over those glorified lite-brites that were being put out to advertise the movie Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Not exactly the city to pull a security prank in, especially at the airport. The same airport that some of the 9/11 hijackers boarded aircraft at. You can imagine they don’t want to drop the ball like that again, so they just might be a little on edge.
In typical bravado cop-speak, a spokesman for the police said that Star Simpson was “lucky she was in jail, and not the morgue.” Well, possibly, as trigger-happy cops aren’t something we have never heard about before. The story is of personal interest to me for a couple of reasons. First, having spent so much time in airports I find them fascinating. Second, I had a somewhat similar event happen to me.
Mine wasn’t at an airport, it was on a busy street in Virginia Beach, Va. The big four-lane street that goes along the hotel strip and boardwalk areas of the beach. It was in the 80s, so forgive me if I can’t remember the street (Atlantic Ave comes to mind, but that might just be coming from Monopoly memory). I was in the Navy. And mind you, these were the days when the military wasn’t looked upon in the same heroic warrior-cult fashion as it is today. Some people loved to give us a hard time.
It was a hot summer day, and people were using water guns and balloons all over the place. There were four of us in a jeep with the top down, and we were getting soaked. So we stopped at a store to get some ability to retaliate. I found a squirt gun that looked like a mini M-16. We started back out on the road with me holding on to the roll bar and squirting at others in the fashion of the old “rat patrol” television series. In the slow traffic we only made it about three blocks. A van came from the other way, squealing to a stop across the two lanes on the other side of the road. An officer opened the door and leveled a shotgun at me through the window. Four or five others came running up from behind, guns drawn. It was all pretty comical, except for the part where they said they almost shot me.
One of the officers said “let’s have the gun.” As I picked it up and brought it over my head to give them, I pulled a little hard on the trigger. I didn’t mean to, but the “gun” fired. It squirted water, but it also had a “rat-tat-tat” kind of sound effect. I still remember the face of the officer as he stepped back and damn near fired at me.
In the end, they arrested me (in far more humiliating fashion then was needed, face down in the middle of the road, but hey, I suppose I asked for it) I spent about two hours in jail until the Navy Shore Patrol came and got me. They took me back to my ship and released me to my command. The officer on duty thought it was hilarious and nothing else came of it.
The moral of both of these stories is no matter how funny or artful a particular act might be, it might be best not to pull it off when there are some who might not take it as a joke that also are quite heavily armed. To the public, I say don’t be too hard on Star Simpson. And to Star Simpson, I say that yes, you are lucky. What were you thinking, girl?