Flying to the State of “Shock”

Amid the exhaustion and excitement of getting up at 3:00 in the morning to fly out to Disneyland – one of my favorite places and the Happiest Place on Earth- I was ill unprepared for what was about to happen. We arrived at the airport at 4:30 for a 6:30 flight and found that no one shows up to work until 5:00. We, along with a handful of other early birds in the queue, waited patiently for the airline attendants to show up and get us one step closer to our destination. It was finally our turn – what excitement filled the air – we were on our way! It was our family’s turn at the ticket counter; the computer had just finished printing our boarding passes as the attendant behind the desk (we will call her Madame X) casually mentioned that she would need to see my ID. No problem, I had already triple checked to make sure I had it with me. I handed it over. What ensued sent my head spinning. Madame X proceeded to ask me, “Do you have a form of identification that hasn’t expired?” Expired! What in the world was she talking about! I gave her a look of complete shock and disbelief. She then showed me my driver’s license, it had expired only 3 days earlier. No, I wasn’t flying to the State of California, I had already landed in the State of Shock. A zillion thoughts were jumping around in my head all at the same time. I was an absolute mess. Madame X asked me to hand over my boarding pass – “uh oh,” I thought, “I’m not going to Disneyland, she is taking my boarding pass away.” A small sigh of relief comes when Madame X hands me over a new boarding pass. I asked her what I should do about the situation. Madame X replies, “Go to you local drivers license division and renew.” Well, duh I was vividly aware of that fact, at least now that I realized it had expired!!! So, I decided to clarify, “No, I mean how will I be able to fly back from California without a valid ID?” Madame X says, “We get dozens of expirations every day, you just have to go through extra security, but they will still let you fly.” Goodbye, Madame X. Hello, Mr. Security Guard. Mr. Security Guard says, “Miss, you have been selected for a high security check. Please remove your shoes, watch, and belt and place them in this special red bin, along with your bag.” He asked what was in my carry on bag and I told him clothes, snacks, digital camera and video camera. He asked me to remove the video camera and to set it in the red bin separately. He then directed me to a puffer machine. Now, have you ever taken an expedition on the Indiana Jones Adventure ride at Disneyland? Well, if you have you will be able to relate with this experience. Do you remember how it feels as you are driving along and the ancient skeleton warriors are shooting arrows past your head with sharp gusts of air? Well that is what the puffer machine is, except the arrows (gusts of air) are shooting at you from every direction. After getting properly “puffed” a green light turns on indicating that you can leave the puffer machine. You are then escorted along with your belongings – which you are not allowed to touch and which have already gone through the x-ray machine- to another security guard. He then commences to swab and test every single inch of your belongs, this takes several different swabs and several minutes. Then finally, at least for me, the major sigh of relief when Security Guard #2 says, “Everything looks good, you’re on your way.” Whew, I made it!

What have I learned from this experience? First, I can definitely testify of Salt Lake International Airport’s great security system; I am now intimately familiar with it. Second, If you are selected for high security try and make sure you don’t have any carry on items with you. Last of all, I will forewarn you that the Utah Driver’s License Division no longer mails out a reminder that your license is about to expire – so, if you have already had your “one time renewal by mail,” keep a close tab on your expiration date so that you don’t get sent to the bizarre yet interesting “State of Shock.”

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