Business trips are hard. Theyâ€™re long, youâ€™re away from home, and you have to be â€œonâ€ for what feels like 24/7 (even if itâ€™s really only 20/4).
Iâ€™ve been cavorting about in Orlando and NOT seeing the house of mouse. (Although I did get made fun of when I insisted on wearing a Ravenclaw shirt at dinner as protest for having an adult dinner discussing technology instead of playing hooky and checking out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter â€“ but I digress.)
The hour of my flight home approached.
I scrambled off to the ladies room to join in the cirque de soleil of the moment â€“ all the stalls occupied by women performing unnatural acts of contortion to change out of a restricting suit skirt and into comfy traveling clothes without touching the floor. (Because OMG COOTIES! Let me be the first to tell your growing children cooties totally do exist.)
Finally I ambled back out to the lobby ready to find a car to the airport. Bags were packed and being properly dragged behind me. Whoâ€™s ready?
My car-mates eyed me warily. Almost as if they were sharing an unsaid secret, â€œhowâ€™d we get stuck with the airport leper?â€ Because, well, Mommy is a danger to national security and is apparently still a threat.
â€œYou know, I think Iâ€™ll just go ahead and check my bag,â€ I announced to the air a large. â€œIâ€™m in the steerage boarding group, so Iâ€™m going to have to gate check anyway.â€ This was my clever way of reassuring my colleagues that I was fully aware of my reputation and intended to take steps to prevent the TSA kerfuffle from happening.
We arrived, clambered out of the company clown car and headed toward the throngs of families trying to depart a humid city with exhausted, tired, cranky children. I smartly rolled my wheelie bag up to bag check, hoisted it onto the scale and bent down to retrieve my wallet for check-in.
Except it wasnâ€™t there.
Many words began flying through my head. All of them beginning with the letter â€œF.â€
I had pulled my driverâ€™s license, credit card and boarding pass out. I had placed them in a credit card case so Iâ€™d have everything easily on hand. I had shoved it in my pocket.
Now. Let me take a moment here to bemoan the state of pockets in womenâ€™s pants. WHAT THE HELL PEOPLE! Shit should fit in those pockets. It does not.
Somewhere, along the way, my identifiers had tipped out and clattered to the floor. Clearly I must have done something no fashion designer ever imagined a woman in jeans doing â€“ moving.
I started shaking. My colleagues looked down at me as I quickly began futility trying to suppress an imminent wild-eyed panic attack. A few of those â€œFâ€ words may have been verbalized.
I waved my colleagues onward. â€œIâ€™ll catch up,â€ I sulked. But they would have none of it. Iâ€™m pretty sure they merely wanted to add to the catalog of cacophony traveling with me brings upon us all. They made their way with me over to a side area â€“ prompting me to really go through my bag thoroughly, just in case.
So there we stood as I rifled through all my unmentionables, which, by the way, could no longer be checked since I couldnâ€™t prove that particular pair of underpants was actually mine. (Whereâ€™s the preschool mom who can vouch for my matching abilities when you need her?)
Toward the body scanners we trudged. Me envisioning a walk of shame back through the airport and a rescheduled flight alone while my reserved seat went empty as my coworkers giggled about my plight like middle school mean girls.
Once again, they crossed the troll bridge checkpoint ahead of me and stood aside to wait as I plead my plight to the TSA agent in blue.
â€œDo you have anything to identify yourself?â€
I flung my emergency backup credit card at him. IT HAS MY NAME! I pulled out my car insurance coverage card, two debit cards and my (well-worn) Kaiser medical card.
He looked at them all closely. â€œI really need something with your picture on itâ€¦â€
I opened my purse once more. And there it shone, glowing like a priceless ruby from the depths of my â€œmom bag.â€
My Costco card!
Who knew such membership would prove even more valuable than simple purchases of diapers in bulk and more milk than a dairy farm.
Now, with actual time to kill, we sat down at a restaurant and all agreed an adult beverage was seriously in order.
â€œMay I see your ID?â€ requested our waiter.
Carded for the first time in years. (Iâ€™m well over 21.) â€œIâ€™ll have water,â€ I mumbled.
Iâ€™m writing this in the air, thankfully en route to the Bay Area (where I know Iâ€™ll get pulled over since I will be driving home without a license). And my fellow company travelers? They banded together to buy me a drink on the plane.
Delivered to my seat with a smile and solemn vows that they were never, ever, traveling with me again.