by Dr Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume
I just returned from a business trip to Mexico which was also very pleasurable. When entering the country, the Mexican “authorities” were courteous and helpful (as much as possible for government bureaucrats). We had a very pleasant and uneventful stay.
But then the time came to fly “home.” Because it has always been my experience every time I have traveled internationally for the past 13 years, I was anticipating the usual hassle from the costumed Pantheon guard (aka uS immigration and customs). The hardest and most unpleasant part of the trip has always been coming “home.” I was not disappointed this time either.
When we landed at DFW, we were herded through the terminal to an area that contained a large number of automated machines that, supposedly, would clear everyone, hassle free, through immigration.
As those that travel internationally know, the uS passport comes in two forms—the standard “booklet” and a little wallet sized plastic card.
The machines contained a video that clearly demonstrated someone putting the card into the machine as well as the passport itself. I took it that either would work so I put the card into the machine. I came back as an “ineligible traveler.”
So I ask the girl (an employee of immigration) that was supposed to be helping people. She put the card into the machine and I again came back as “ineligible traveler.” So, she told me I needed to see an “officer.” At first that scared the shit out of me but when I looked around almost all of the people I had seen on the plane were in line to see an “officer.”
Meantime, other planes arrived and the crowd grew. We all stood in line for 30 to 45 minutes waiting for 3 “officers” to service the entire crowd. (Along about then I was thanking the Lord for the 3 hour layover between flights).
One lady lost her child in the process. The child made it through the screening but she did not. She was near panic mode.
When I finally made it to the “officer” (a black guy with what sounded like a fake Jamaican accent), he called my attention to the fine print on the back of the passport card. It says something like “good for land and sea travel” but does not mention anything about air. Holy shit! It was THEIR employee that put the card in the machine for me. Yet, he gave me a disgusted look like it was my fault. So much for finely trained government bureaucrats.
So then I went to reclaim my checked baggage. After the long delay, the baggage carousel was no longer moving but that was just as well. I found my bag on the floor. Apparently, some lazy zombie had pulled it off the carousel, found it wasn’t his/hers, and just left it lying on the floor. So, I retrieved and continued to run the gauntlet.
I still had to clear customs, recheck my bag for Midland/Odessa, and go through the TSA “feel up” again before I could get to the gate area for my flight. Again, just as well. The flight was delayed multiple times as TTA (Tree Top Airlines aka American) scrambled to find an airplane to take me home.
Then, when we finally made it to Mid/Odessa (almost 2 AM), I went to retrieve my bag. When I tried to open it, the zipper was broken and a clear break was visible. I don’t know who to blame for that one on but I’m sure I really looked funny leaving the terminal with my bag held together by a disassembled coat hanger (improvise, adapt and overcome).
Fortunately, my wife had made reservations at a hotel near the airport. We finally fell into bed around 2:00 AM from a flight that was scheduled to arrive at 10:00 PM. Welcome “home.”
There is an old saying in Mexico that pretty much sums it up, “Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the united States.”
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