Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dude, Where's My License?

This past Wednesday through Saturday, I ventured on up to the East Coast to spend a few days with my homies in Virginia. No huge projects to work on, just a fun visit. I talk to these folks every single (work) day, but I only see them once every 12-18 months. So, it's really weird to be up there emailing and they're in the room next to me. I went shopping, stepped into a Yankee Candle Company store (more like city...OH MY GOSH...I'll have to tell you more about it later), signed an autograph, met some new faces (they were attached to bodies), and hung out. It was a good time and I was so happy to get to see them. Hopefully, it won't be as long before my next visit.

Sweet Mom came up Tuesday night to keep the girls and took me to the airport on Wednesday. I pride myself on being an organized traveler. I had checked in the night before, printed my boarding passes. I just had my backpack and carry-on suitcase, so I wasn't checking any bags. Mom dropped me off with plenty of time to get through security, pick up the US Weekly copy of "Kristen Cheated on Rob" at Hudson News, and arrive at my gate well before boarding time. I roll up to security and wait in the line.  The lady in front of me dropped her wallet, so I reached down to pick it up for her. Then, I dropped my boarding pass, so the guy behind me picked it up for me. It was a touching moment for the three of us. I take out my license along with my boarding pass to show the lady at the first checkpoint. I hate my license picture. It was taken 2 weeks before the girls were born, but the weight says what I weighed pre-pregnancy. And I'm sure people look at my face in the picture and think, "Suuuuure...you weigh that. Riiiiiiiiight."

After that checkpoint, it's kind of a rush as you're required to take off your shoes, unload laptops, iPads, thick computer-y stuff, travel-sized toiletries, and put it all in bins. I take off my shoes (my high-top Toms that take forever to put back on...really thought that through, Ruth) and pull out my toiletries to set in the bin. I check my pockets to make sure I don't have anything in there, and then toss my backpack and suitcase up on the conveyer belt. Of course, they have to do a second run-through on my backpack. The lady yelled, "Who didn't take out their laptop?!" I meekly responded, "It's not a laptop. It's a Wacom tablet." In my defense, the sign doesn't say anything about taking out Wacom tablets. They scrutinized the monitor, trying to see if I could make a bomb out of it.

Side note: I'm glad they scrutinize so carefully. You can x-ray any part of my body and pat me down wherever, I don't care, as long as I know I'm flying safely.

They determined I wasn't a terrorist and let me on my way. I sit down at some chairs and reload my bags, shoving my boarding pass in my backpack so I can access it easily when we board. I spend 13 minutes putting my stupid shoes back on. I finish and head straight to Hudson News. I've got to see these Kristen cheating pictures. I head out of the store straight to the bathroom and then to a little kiosk selling bottled water. Figured I'd be getting thirsty soon. I hand the lady my debit card to pay and she asks to see my ID because on the back of my card, I have "Check ID" instead of my signature. I reach back into my wallet to dig out my license. It's not there. I flip through the little slots...nothing. Puzzled, I tell her, "I literally JUST had my license when I came through security." I patted my pockets, remembering I had put my license in my right back pocket after the first checkpoint for safekeeping. Yeah, that kept it real safe. I apologized for the wait and reiterated that I seriously just had my license. And she says, "That's okay. What's your name?" I tell her and she looks at the card, satisfied, and hands it and my water back to me. So, apparently, if you steal a debit/credit card, all you have to do is memorize the name and you're golden. And then I thought, "No, it's not okay! Where is my license?!"

I walk a little out of the way up against the wall and squat down. I check my pockets again. I KNOW I put it in my back pocket. But, it's not there. You know when you've lost something and you check the same place over and over because you don't want to accept the fact that it's lost. I probably checked my back pockets a million times. I had plenty of time before the plane left, but I needed all of it to find the dadburn piece of plastic. I looked through every pocket and orifice of my backpack. Nothing. I knew I hadn't put it in my suitcase, but I checked it anyway. I checked my pockets again. The backs of my knees were starting to sweat. GASP! I bet when I went to the bathroom, it fell out of my pocket. I hustled to the women's restroom and looked all over the floor. I'm sure I confused a few people. Someone even told me, "There's no one in that stall." No license. I went back to Hudson News and retraced my steps through the store. I determined it fell out of my pocket going through security.

I went to the TSA agent desk right by the security screening and waited until someone noticed me. There wasn't a little dingy bell, so I couldn't do anything. After an eternity, they turned to me and asked how they could help. I told them my license was missing and that I was pretty sure it fell out during security. The guy helping me was, well, I might as well have been doing his job. He just looked at me like, "Uh...license? Uh. Let me see if anybody turned one in." He "checked" through some lost and found for about 4 seconds before saying, "No. Nothing." And I said, "I came through like 10 minutes ago. It might be up by the screening area where the x-ray machines are." And he said, "No, probably not." And he was nice, he was, and it's not his fault that I lost my license, but really? You just KNOW it's not up there? His friend walked by and said, "You about to head out?" And the guy was like, "Yeah, about to go pick up my girl." So, obviously, he was super interested in helping me find my license. He gave me card to call to inquire about lost and found in a few days...maybe somebody will turn it in. I told him I was flying up to Virginia. Would I be able to get back home? He assured me everything would be fine and yeah, I could just show them a credit card. I didn't think that was accurate...most likely they'd want a picture ID, but he was in a hurry to go get his girl. Awesome.

I starting heading toward my gate, stopping at a set of chairs to look through everything again. I completely emptied my backpack. As I was doing so, I was going through all the horrible scenarios that a missing license might bring upon me and my family. What if somebody saw it on the floor, picked it up, and decided to track me down and murder me one day? It had my address on it, my height, weight, hair and eye color. Oh wait...it still has my old address. Heh heh, joke's on them. But, oh no, they might show up to the house and murder the sweet couple that bought it! Well, better them than me. But still, sad for them. I wondered if people could steal your identity with the info that's on a license. We don't have social security numbers on ours. But it does say that I'm an organ donor and that I wear contacts. How can they use that information against me? Sigh. I swung my backpack up on my shoulders and wheeled my suitcase around. I retraced my steps one more time to the bathroom, Hudson News, and the wide hallway.

I called David to ask what I should do. Should I just stay in Birmingham? I had travel insurance on the flight. I just didn't want to be unable to get back home all because of a license. He said it was all well and good for the TSA agent to tell me all I would need was a credit card, but it wasn't him getting grilled by Virginian TSA agents and they are tough cookies. I knew he was right. I marched back to the TSA desk. On my way, I tried desperately to recollect the events that occurred from the first checkpoint until I was putting my shoes back on. Where did I put my license? Did I really put it in my back pocket? No, I determined that I had not. I remembered thinking, No, don't put it in your pocket, because you'll forget you put it there and freak out about it missing later. Man, I cannot win today. I guess I just placed it directly in the bin with my boarding pass.

The replacement TSA agent was there at the desk and he was pretty. He noticed me immediately and asked how he could help. Apparently, the afternoon agents are more helpful. I told him my situation and that I was fairly certain it was in one of the bins. He said it happens all the time. He said I could come back to the security screening area and he and another agent would look through the bins. I waited and sure enough, they looked through every single bin. They searched the floor around the x-ray machine. Nothing to be found. They looked through lost and found again. Still nothing. He gave me the same card the first agent did and told me to call later to see if it had turned up. I asked him the same question about coming back home without a license. (I did have my paper license...the one they give you before you get your permanent plastic one.) I had no other form of photo ID. He said they would check my credit/debit cards and worst case scenario, make a phone call to make sure I was who I said I was, but it wouldn't be any problem coming back. Fine, fine.

I thanked him profusely and as I was heading back down the ramp, he said, "When you get to your hotel, empty everything out on the bed so you can look through it all. A lot of times people put things where they wouldn't think they would...random places. A lot of people get angry at us saying we lost their stuff, but it was in their shoe the whole time. (chuckle chuckle)" I laughed with him and thought, Man, people can be so lame someti--MY SHOE!!!!! The memory of slipping my license into my shoe after the first checkpoint and telling myself not to forget it all came rushing back to me like a punch in the face. I wiggled my toes...sho nuff, I could feel it. I gave a little nervous laugh and thanked him again, backing down the ramp. I most definitely was not going to tell him I, the idiotic girl, knew exactly where it was.

I casually strolled to my gate, took off my shoe, and basked in the glory of my found license. We were happily reunited at Gate C5.

And the moral of the story is, don't cheat on your boyfriend because paparazzi are everywhere and US Weekly will buy the scandalous pictures and you will be called a trampire.


  1. I knew it was in your shoe by the time that guy was ending his shift! Seriously Ruth, that's the best story about flying I've ever heard and that includes all stories from Harry Potter.

  2. I'm glad that the moral of the story wasn't to remember where you put your license, but rather to not cheat on your boyfriend in front of the papparazzi. Or however you spell that.

  3. Agree with you 100% about the TSA agents in Virginia. They are hardcore, especially at the Norfolk and Newport News airports.


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Mom, keep it clean.
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