I’m A Stranger In My Own Land

Hi gang,

Ok, we’re all business owners here.   Admit it – you’ve screwed up something before, right?  Something simple, something routine, something that makes you feel like a dolt.

“You dolt” is actually what I muttered to myself on Friday as I was checking my bag in at the Air Trans counter to fly out to the Amazon Seller Conference in Seattle.  My driver’s license, that wonderful 2×3 inch piece of laminated government formality, was safe and sound…at my office 15 miles away.

I have flown many, many, many times, and I have never once not brought my license.  So here’s what happens to you, if you’re lucky, to still get on the plane without it (in this order):

Raised eyebrows from the baggage counter girl.  “Do you have any id at all?”. 

I did have several credit cards with my picture on them, as well as a Sam’s Club card with my photo.  I pulled them out and showed them to her, along with several pictures of my family and my Starbucks card for added “I am not a terrorist” emphasis.  Somewhat reluctantly,  she checked my bag and handed me my ticket, and I headed for security.

I’m yanked out of line the second I tell the “checker” that I don’t have my license.  I get the full SSSS treatment – strip search, cavity search (ok that isn’t true, but I did have my shoes off and my belt undone, which is further than I ever got on many, many dates), bags opened, bags swabbed with some magic bomb detection cloth, and finally, I’m through.

Flights go well –  conference in Seattle goes well.

Today is again travel day.   I show up to the airport, get to the baggage counter, do my no license spiel, pull out the credit card with the picture, check my bag, get my ticket, and head for security.

You all already know what’s coming, don’t you?

I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting the head of the TSA security shift this time – Steve, badge number 17384.  I give him my speil, pull out the credit cards with photos, pictures of the family, Starbucks card (I’m in Seattle for Chrissakes).

He gives me a blank stare.  He asks me to step to the side where all the terrorists have to stand and walks away.  I begin seductively undressing myself because, well, I know what’s coming.

Only it doesn’t come.  He walks back over a minute later with a piece of paper.  “Write down your home address and your date of birth please”.  I did.  He then makes a phone call and just stands there next to me on hold.

10 minutes later, I ask him “hey Steve-O, what’s the dellio?”.   He says that protocol is to call in to a single (!) phone number in D.C. to speak with somebody who can verify my identity.  “Allrighty,” I say.

30 minutes to flight departure.

10 minutes later, you may as well have fast forwarded us ahead 10 minutes.  I’m still standing there holding my pants up and he’s just standing next to me holding the phone to his ear.

10 minutes later – yeah, same thing.

38 minutes after Steve-O makes the phone call, somebody in D.C. answers the phone.  7 minutes later – I am indeed…me.  Steve stamps something and I rocket through security.

“Where’s S Gate?”  I yell back to Steve.

“Oh, it’s on the other end of the airport – you won’t make it”

Steve-O was right.   3 people movers, 1 tram, and 4 miles of walking later, I breathlessly get to my gate.

“Atlanta,” I manage to get out to the humored Air Trans rep standing at the locked door.

“Long gone.  Left 10 minutes ago.”

I stare at her for a few minutes blankly.  “But, my luggage is on that plane.”

“Yeah, it made the flight!” she responded cheerfully.   I refrained from choking her simply because they wouldn’t be able to verify my identity at the jail.

She booked me on the next available flight, which is tomorrow.

Well, nothing to do now except go rent a car and go explore Seattle til morning.  I actually got 3/4 of the way to the rental counter before it hit me.

No drivers license.

I’ve got a laptop,  my iphone, and my wallet.   I am a stranger in my own country.

But we are entrepreneurs, people.   We take lemons and make lemon juice – mainly because we pound the lemons real hard because we’re so mad and make juice.  Making lemonade out of lemons is just stupid – who walks around with sugar and a glass?  I’m off point.

So I hop in a cab and tell the driver to take me to the ferry pier.  I buy a round trip ticket to Bainbridge Island, hop on the ferry, and we float off into the Puget Sound.  From the water, Seattle is absolutely stunning.  I’ve got the Space Needle to my left and I’ve got an unbelievable Mt. Rainier on my right, looming in it’s snow covered greatness.  It’s 95 degrees back home, but here, in the wind of the bay, it’s barely 60. Just beautiful.

I ride to Bainbridge, walk off, walk right back on, and ride the ferry back.   I get all melancholy, so I plug in the iphone and listen to my favorite melancholy music,  Stings’ “The Soul Cages”.  Start with “Why Should I Cry For You” and carry on til the end of the CD – try it, I dare you.

So here I sit,  after a wonderful salmon dinner at Ivar’s Clam Digger Lounge, drinking coffee (required, I’m in Seattle), writing away, and staring out at the bay.  Seattle has this way of making me quiet and introspective – beautiful places do that to me.   I feel very envious of the people who live here.   Somehow,  watching a man feeding crackers to the seagulls that glide along with the ferry is just more important than working.  Seattle, to me, feels like a city that kind of lives and breathes on it’s own, and the people here are just content to be a part of it.

Think of me at 7 am tomorrow – I get to start pulling out credit cards with my picture on them all over again.


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