A World of Warcraft aficionado travelling from Chicago to Canada earlier this month to hook up with fellow gamers sparked an airborne terror alert after accidently flushing his iPod down the toilet.
A short report in the Ottawa Citizen states: "A suspicious package found in an aircraft washroom on a flight from Chicago on Tuesday afternoon brought out Ottawa police canine and bomb-disposal units. A member of the crew found the package about 4 p.m.
"The plane landed safely and was isolated away from the terminal. Passengers were taken off the plane and questioned by police while experts investigated the 'package.'"
The blow-by-blow, first-person account on a WoW forum (currently experiencing heavy traffic, so be patient) is far more entertaining. Our would-be Ozzie bin Laden relates:
It all started when I got out of my seat to go to the bathroom. I went to the bathroom, washed my hands, and returned to my seat. A little while later the two stewardesses on the flight crossed each other in the aisle. They had a quick conversation that I was in earshot of.
"I locked off the front lav. There's something in the toilet that's preventing it from flushing. Run some water and see if you can clear it." My face immediately turned red. The seat cover! I thought. It must have been too big to flush! I should have thrown it out!
I was so embarrassed. I tried to act normal ... I took a sudden interest in the contents of the seat pocket in front of me, acted nonchalant and all. I watched as the stewardess got on her hands and knees in the lavatory and did unfathomable dirty work.
Sometime later, I decided it would be best if I forgot the whole thing happened, so I went to put on my headphones and drown myself in iPod music. But ... no iPod. I panicked, checked my other pockets. Where was it? Not under the seat, not in the pockets, not ... anywhere. I looked up to the stewardesses. One of them had run past me in a decent clip. She was carrying a green handbook. She brought it to the other stewardess. They flipped through the handbook, read a page, then made a call. The other stewardess had retrieved a blue metal box and was removing some equipment from it.
At this point the red-faced toilet abuser 'fessed up to cabin staff that it was his iPod which had done the damage, but the crew had already alerted the powers that be. Some time after, the captain declared: "Folks, this is the captain. I don't want to alarm you, but we've found a suspicious device in the front lavatory. Now, we think it's probably nothing, but in this day and age ... you can never be too careful. We'll be landing at Ottawa, where we will await further instructions."
Our iPod bomber continues:
The cabin erupted with commotion. At that very moment, my face fell into my hands. What have I done?
We landed at Ottawa, and we were taxiing to the gate. Without warning, the airplane then lurched to a sudden halt.
"Folks, this is the captain. We've been ordered to make an immediate stop. Buses are coming to evacuate the aircraft." We were to leave all of our belongings on the aircraft; we would be shuttled by bus to the terminal, where we would receive our carryon items.
Unsurprisingly, our WoW fan was subsequently treated to a thorough going-over by the police:
They took me to a discreet corner. They brought out a tape recorder. I was told to put my hands up on the wall and spread my legs, and I was frisked from head to toe. They removed my wallet, disassembled it completely, and placed each of its contents in its own plastic evidence bag.
"Now Tim, for the sake of the tape recorder, I want you to state your full name and address." I did. "Now, each of us will state our name and position into the tape recorder." There were two detectives from the police department, a detective from Customs, and two members of the bomb squad.
Then started the questions. They were easy at first. They asked me where I lived. What do I do for a living? Why am I unemployed? How come it's taken me 4 months to find a job?
They asked me why I was visiting Canada. I was to visit a friend I met on World of Warcraft, Cara. They took down her name and what I could remember of her address. They asked me how we met.
"In an online game."
"What online game?"
"Umm ... World of Warcraft," I responded meekly.
"What kind of game is this?"
"It's a fantasy game ... it takes place online."
"Fantasy ... like it's got wizards and warlocks?"
"Well, it's got warlocks."
Having got the wizards and warlocks issue straight, the police then moved on to the matter of Cara:
They asked me to describe my relation to Cara. I told them that people meet up in the game and go on adventures together, and that Cara and I were in a guild together that I was the leader of. They confused the concept of a guild with the game, however, and I had them believing that I was the Lord and Leader of all of WoW until I was able to correct them, and explain to them what a guild was.
So, when they put the pieces together; namely, that I was visiting a female person that I had met over a computer game, their next line of questioning went down an obvious path.
"So you and Cara are friends?"
"How long have you known her?"
"About 5 months I think? Maybe less."
"Do you have a romantic relationship with Cara?"
"Do you want a romantic relationship with Cara?"
"OK, so ... if you and Cara were drunk together, and she turned to you and said, 'Tim, let's go--'"
Marvellous. Tim was then subjected to the usual "do you know how to make a bomb?" routine, more questions about the lovely Cara and whether he had child pornography on his laptop until the authorities finally decided he was a danger to no-one except warlocks.
He did get his iPod back, btw, but not before one last piece of off-the-record grilling:
They took my photo, asked me to wait in the cold for 30 minutes, and then escorted me to a red van. Along the way I passed the detective who had first interviewed me. He was carrying a green paper bag. He called me over.
"I just got it back from the bomb squad. It's an iPod. Do you want it back?"
"It's been in the toilet."
"Yeah, it's messy." Then he walked right up to my ear. "Tim, you're not in any trouble anymore. Nothing you say now is going to be on record. I want you to answer a question honestly, just for me, not for my agency."
He whispered into my ear. "Did you ... did you take a dump, and then drop your iPod in the toilet on accident?"
"No!" I yelled a little too loudly. "Like I said ... I didn't notice it was missing until after!"
"OK, OK. I believe you. You did great, Tim." ®