Monday, February 20, 2012

Passport Please

May I see your passport please?

Not an unusual request when you're flying. Unless that is, you're flying from Jacksonville to St. Louis. Or Portland. Or Boston. Generally I don't carry my passport to the airport unless we happen to be flying overseas at which point, it's a very good idea. Still, flying to Steamboat Springs didn't exactly conjure up a cross Atlantic flight to Switzerland...

Following 9-11 I ended up on a "list", a flight list that would follow me from airport to airport. At first I thought I just happened to be one of the lucky ones randomly selected for a more intensive search. That thought pretty much went out the window after about the third time. If I really was that "lucky" it was time to start buying lottery tickets. No, something more was happening and I had not a clue as to what or why. Maybe I had raised a red flag after interviewing with the FBI following graduation from college. It should come as a comfort to all Americans that the Agency passed on offering me employment. I think it demonstrated a great example of how well they do their job. It also sent chills through my friends who I'm sure thought they might need to clean up their act and maybe their apartment should a black car pull up followed by a knock rattling their front door. Sorry about that guys.

Presenting my flight information and drivers license at the check-in counter would initiate a uniform routine. After typing in my info the agent would look up and pleasantly ask if I had my passport as they simultaneously dialed the phone to what I suspected to be a supervisor. After affirming I did not have my passport, I would be shuttled off to security for a more personal screening while my carry on and any checked luggage was opened, emptied and inspected piece by piece. Getting to the airport two hours before our flight wasn't just a suggestion, for us it was required to ensure we (I) caught our flights. Finally, I skipped the waiting to see if I was going to receive special attention and just matter of factly acknowledged I would and no, I did not have my passport (not that it mattered). The agent would make the call and often times would politely remind me that I should expect extra screening along the way. I found it simpler and more often faster to smile, thank them and move on to my private screening.

And then it ended a few years ago. No more special attention. I became your typical, everyday air traveler being herded along. I was surprised to find I unaccountably missed the attention I had grown accustomed to. Never knowing how I got on the list, now I was equally baffled as to how I fell off. Alyson was happy to not have my name pop up on the agent's screen and to have the drama behind us.

As was I...

1 comment:

Jen said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. I like how you kept your sense of humor in spite of the major inconvenience caused by all the special attention! :)