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16 April 2015

How I Almost Got Arrested Last Week ● by Jess

I have to start off by stating: I don't know karate.

In fact, I don't know any form of marital arts that would actually protect me if I should ever find myself in a life-threatening situation with a British thug.

This fact frustrates my husband immensely. So-- for fear of my life-- he bought me a can of mace for my birthday. I now faithfully keep it in my purse. Always.

This past week, Jon and I went to Poland and the Czech Republic for our anniversary. While we were last-minute packing, I dumped the contents of my purse into my suitcase. Surely everything I needed besides clothes and makeup would be in my purse. Then off the airport we went.

Security at Stanstead is (sincerely) a treat compared to American standards. At the very least, people are a bit friendlier. We made our way through security worry-free.

Then my suitcase gets flagged. “It's an aerosol can...” the lady tells me. “Probably hairspray or something...”

She digs into my bag as I sit thinking, “aerosol? I don't even own hairspray... What could it possibly b--”

And then she pulls out the mace.


Jon turns to me and gives me a long, unhappy look.
“Really Jess, you brought mace to the airport?”

The lady calls over her supervisor, who looks at the can and frowns. “You're going to have to come with me.”

We grab our things as our original bag checker smiles and waves goodbye.

The supervisor brings us around to the security office and has us sit down. She then informs us that mace is actually an illegal weapon in the UK, so she's going to need a minute. Perfect.

We wait around for about 15 minutes... our mood gets lighter as we realise we still have plenty of time to make our flight. Jon laughs and says he can just imagine two cops coming and carting me away in handcuffs.

As if on cue, two beefy police officers with MACHINE GUNS round the corner and enter the office. I little flicker of fear ignites in my stomach and I say a silent prayer that they aren't for me. 

London Lifestyle blog

Two minutes later, the first officer emerges with my mace and my blue passport in hand. “Ma'am, could you please come with me.”

My heart drops right into my gut. I turn around and look at Jon who looks both worried and thoroughly entertained. I turn back to look at the police officers. The one has muscles that are easily the size of my head.

They lead me into an interrogation room and shut the door. I hear it click, then the little whir of electronic security lock. Shiz just got real.

The officer with my passport gives me the up-and-down.

“How old are you?”

“Um, 26?” For some reason I answer as though it's a number we can haggle.

“26! Why, you've got yourself a baby face, love.” He smiles warmly.

I feel myself relax for moment. I make a joke about recently getting carded buying an exacto knife (which you only need to be 18 to buy).

He sits down on the other side of the table and looks over the paperwork.

“So, how did you get this stuff in the country anyway? You know it's illegal, right? Did you bring it from the States?”

“Uh... no, my husband bought it on Amazon.”

“Amazon?!” the cop shot a perplexed look to his partner. “Here? In THIS country?”


The two look at each other. “Wait a second,” says the other one. “I don't think that is actually mace.”

“What?!” The lead cop and I are both equally surprised.

The other cop pulls out his phone and looks it up online. The lead cop winks at me, “It might just be your lucky day.”

Cop number two continues thumbing his phone. “Yup, here we go,” he says. “This is that skin dying colour spray that you use so that the police can find the perpetrator later. See here on the fine print it says, 'contains no pepper irritant.'”


The officers look at me and grin. “Wow, you got lucky... so did we, no more paperwork!”

I grab my stuff and shoot out the door. The world suddenly seems full of sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.

I run to Jon.

“It wasn't pepper spray!” I shout too loudly, but with all the joy of exoneration.

Jon shakes his head and smiles. “My sweet little Jess, so close to becoming an actual criminal.”

Now we're back home, and a bit wiser. And while I have no intention of trying to smuggle an illegal weapon across international borders again, I do sort of miss my can of mace. It's sad to realise that I can't (and never did) carry anything that could actually protect me.

Guess it's time to learn karate.

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