By Rick Reynolds
As we approach the summer vacation travel period, here are a few vacation- ending missteps to avoid. My wife and I just returned from Italy despite the following hiccups:
1. Never use middle names on airline tickets. When purchasing our tickets online, I stupidly put my wife’s middle name where it said, “middle name.” Silly me. As it turned out, her passport had her maiden name as her middle name, so the two essential documents didn’t match. The airline wouldn’t change the name on the ticket and told us to beg the mercy of the TSA officials. I implored the airline to issue a new ticket. Refusing, they said to bring 3 corroborating, irrefutable elements: her birth certificate, her marriage license, and her mother.
2. Never buy the trendy passport holders that hang from your neck. Though I’ve never had trouble losing my passport on international trips, someone told me that I must purchase the soft cotton undergarment passport holders that assure one will never become separated from one’s passport. Under protest, my wife wore her passport carrier on our way to the limo company that would take us to the airport. But soon my wife’s passport carrier became uncomfortable around her neck, as she later explained, so she had taken it off and placed it in her lap. When she got out of our car, it fell on the ground. There it remained until we did our final checklist in the limo, on the way to the airport. “Honey,” I said as calmly and reassuringly as I could summon. “You have defeated my failsafe passport protection strategy. You have removed your passport carrier. You are no longer with passport. Would you like to see me wet my pants before I get to Pisa?”
3. Never bring deadly weapons on the plane. While this would seem academic, a Swiss Army knife/ keychain was detected in my wife’s carry on. Gosh, and here we had been so careful! All our liquids were in little 3 oz. bottles in clear bags, ready for inspection, and, low and behold, there’s this little, innocent, deadly weapon nestled in her underwear. When asked by the stern TSA officer if she was carrying any weapons onto the plane, my wife asserted, “Absolutely not!” Then, as the officer proceeded to pull out each of the 4 gleaming sharp blades, one-by-one, my “fight or flight” instinct took over:
The “I’ve never seen this woman before in my life,” defense instantly popped into my head, as I envisioned losing my vacation. When I collected myself, I remembered that her ticket and passport didn’t match, confirming that my first instinct might actually work.
However, thinking this stretched credulity, I next thought of saying, “Honey, you never told me you had terrorist tendencies.” But finally, I summoned all my maturity and said, “Darling, would you tell this nice man why you’re bringing a knife of mass destruction onto the aircraft?”
At this point, our 25th anniversary was off to a rocky start. There were only three absolute vacation-ending events, and we managed to do all three. To make matters worse, I noticed the TSA officers were now looking at me differently. After all, why would this nice looking woman spirit a knife in her luggage? She didn’t look the part. Next I know, I’m spread-eagled. While I was explaining to them how careful I had been despite my wife’s carelessness, another officer was touching parts of me I hadn’t visited since grade school. So intimate was their search, I asked them for a cigarette afterward.
My wife tells me she’s forgiven me. And she highly recommends Tuscany.
35-year resident of Chappaqua, humorist Rick Reynolds resides in southern New Hampshire with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.