I recently broke the law.
Although I have been known to bend a few rules, I do not typically run into the true criminal element. In Switzerland, known for its - shall we call it orderliness- it is apparently easy to break a law, especially if you do not know it exists.
My recent business trip to Zurich was the setting for this adventure. As is so often the case I was at the airport, going through security, which is sometimes problematic for me. See Bullies not Welcome Here. This time though I was feeling confident. My liquids were in their 1 litre see through zip lock bag. My laptop and iPad were exposed in their individual bins. Shoes and belt off. What could go wrong?
Something. That's what could go wrong.
My computer bag was shuffled off to THE OTHER BELT.
You know the one they reserve for BAGS WITH SUSPICIOUS ARTICLES INSIDE.
Security Person: Do you have a laser pointer in your bag?
Security Person: Please open your bag.
From this point on things got weird. They took my laser pointer and pointed it various things. Then a supervisor appeared and took my laser pointer away. He returned and asked for my passport, which he also took away. The next person to approach me was a police officer.
Officer: Is this your laser pointer?
Me: Yes I believe it is. Is there a problem?
Officer; Yes why did you want to carry it on the plane?
Me: No reason. It was in my computer bag. I was using it this week during some training sessions.
Officer: Do you know the level of this laser pointer?
Officer: Laser pointers are illegal in Switzerland, so I must confiscate this.
Me: Or we could just put it in my checked luggage since it is not illegal in any other country.
Officer: Please come with me.
For the next hour at the police station I was challenged by a very unpleasant police officer who asked me questions about passport stamps, dates of arrival, and then told me if I was unable to speak German it was not his fault if I did not understand everything he asked. Okay, no argument at all coming from me, which seemed to infuriate him even more. He then said sarcastically that if I could not speak German perhaps I would prefer French. I answered him in French that that would be perfectly acceptable as a compromise.
Get this: he rolled down his jacket sleeves, turned and walked away, tossing a casual a casual "Let her go" over his shoulder to a colleague.
I was free.
What did I learn?
Stay calm. Know your rights. Try not to piss of the Swiss police by questioning their questions about a trainer carrying a laser pointer.
Or maybe in this case I learned nothing at all. But he turned me loose!