That is the front range of the Rockies, looming off there in the distance. Can you spot them? It means I'm in the environs of Denver.
I try not to join the growing chorus of complaints about modern travel. The security lines, with the ignominy of clothing removal and pat downs, cramped airplanes, and the obligatory packages of peanuts tossed at one by surly flight attendants. I figure, since 9/11, we can all just suck it up and pretend this is our version of ration books in WW II.
But it has gone on for more than a decade now, and it does make flying very non-fun. However--I still managed to have a good trip to Denver, and my niece's up-coming wedding. It did occur to me as I was pulling out my California Drivers License for the umpteenth time, that those loony jihadists who started this whole thing--ALL HAD VALID IDENTIFICATION! But never mind.
Good seat on the plane and an easy flight. DIA is not an easy airport. You arrive at the gate, take two escalators down to the tram, get on the tram, then take two more escalators up to the terminal. Then you wander around aimlessly looking for a sign that tells you which carousel might hold your luggage.
While I wandered I heard my name called, which was odd. Then I had to find a "White Courtesy Phone" which no one in any of those "Can I Help You?"desks" seemed to know anything about. So I wandered aimlessly some more, from security guard to USO desk to total strangers and finally found one.
I picked it up and it had a recording on it with one of those phone trees! Just what I needed at this point, but still, this wasn't the worst part!
About twenty-five minutes had now elapsed between the page and the phone tree. After cursing the numerous recorded "options" I finally got an operator, who told me my California Drivers License had been found on the ground back at the gate where I landed. It had fallen out of my pocket.
I thought about this. I would need that license to rent a car, not to mention drive it. But how would I get back through security, to make the umpteen mile trek on escalators, moving sidewalks, and trams to get back to gate B-60? Without a ticket? Ask at a United desk I was told.
I found a United desk and asked the man there if some United person who happened to be headed this way across the wide expanses of Colorado, could bring it to me. No. They could not.
Could they mail it to me? (I could always forget the rental car.) No. They could not.
Could he call the gate and make sure the darned thing was still there? "Oh, that's United Express," he said with a wave of his hand. "I don't know any of those people." Still, this wasn't the worst part.
Anyway, he wasn't all bad. He agreed to watch my carry on and make sure my checked bag went round and round the carousel while I returned to the gate. And how would I do that? I wondered, without a ticket?
He produced a "gate pass." And my trek back began. I did feel a little bit like one of those prairie pioneers with the Rockies looming on the horizon, as I headed back through security (luckily I had my passport with me, or I don't know what I would accomplished this.) Off came my shoes, etc. etc. You all know the drill.
It must have been at least five miles between security and gate B-60 where a nice lady called "Janice" was supposed to be hanging on to my DL.
I took the tram. I took the down escalator and the up escalator all over again. I moved on the moving sidewalk. Between gates 56 and 58 just as the operator had told me, there was a service desk. By now my purse felt like a suitcase full of bricks, and my hair felt as if the entirety of it had fallen onto my face. I walked dragging my feet. But still, this wasn't the worst part.
The woman at the service desk was speaking with another traveler as I approached. Now comes the worst part.
Without even pausing in her conversation, the United lady held up her hand to me. In it was my California Drivers License.
She recognized me from my Drivers License photo. That's bad.
I didn't mind the walk, or the long line in security, or the pat down, or taking my shoes of for the fourth time, or all those escalators or that mean United guy who wouldn't even call the service desk for me. Or even the trek back, the bus to the rental car place, or even the traffic jam to my sister's house.
But looking like my Drivers License photo?
The trip can only go up from here.
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