The Hungover Gourmet

 

Step On My Leg! Or, How I Went to Cabo and Discovered the True Meaning of Customer Service!
by Dan Taylor

Friends, acquaintances and readers alike have expressed shock and surprise at my recent trip to Cabo San Lucas – a Mexican resort more suited to a 'Girls Gone Wild' shoot than a zine editor with a taste for cheap beer and diners. Especially since I'm so rabid about the travel opportunities right here in this grand old land of ours.

On the other hand, the last time a girlfriend of mine went to Mexico without me, she returned home pissed off and asked me to move out. Maybe it'd be best if I went along for the ride...

When You Say Her Name Everybody Goes Insane
The "funny" part of this tale is that we almost never made it to Cabo, thanks to Mary M: Continental Airlines Counter Nazi. Despite her protestations to the contrary, I'm pretty sure this order-following bitch made up her own rules intended to keep me from leaving the country. Please note, however, that the following story takes place pre-9/11, which changed the whole "airport counter argument" ball of wax.

We arrived at the airport in plenty of time for our early-morning departure, which was scheduled to put us in Cabo a couple days before the wedding we were attending. My better half used to work in Arizona, and friends from there decided to get married south of the border and invite friends and family to make the nuptials a big ol' vacation. Great idea, we thought, and planned to arrive late Saturday afternoon, spend a few days enjoying the sites, sounds, beaches and swim-up bars before Monday afternoon's wedding.

Having never been out of the country (except for my walk across the border into Canada), I possessed neither a passport nor any other "official" document that bestowed upon me the title of citizen of these here United States. Unless you count, as I did, a driver's license, Social Security card, etc.

I'm Sorry, Your Papers Are Not in Order...
We get to the ticket counter with time to spare, ready to wing our way to the sunny tip of Baja. At which point I encounter Mary M: Airlines Counterperson from Hell. Everything is going fine until she asks me to produce my identification and I hand over my trusty old Pennsylvania Driver's license...

"I'm sorry sir, but this isn't an official identification. I need a passport or other official form of ID."

"What do you mean?"

"This doesn't show that you're a citizen of the United States."

"Sure it does."

"No, it doesn't. You don't have to be a citizen to get a driver's license."

"Okay, here's my Social Security card."

"I'm sorry sir, but this isn't an official ID either."

"Okay, what's an official ID?"

"A passport, birth certificate or voter's registration card."

"Hold on, let me dig one of those out... come on, I don't carry those around!"

"Sorry sir. Please don't get smart."

"Okay, but why do I need a passport to get into Mexico?"

"It's not our requirement, it's the requirement of the Mexican government. If we let you on the plane without it they won't let you back in the country."

Having nothing to go on except for the images of Mexico that I've gathered from flicks like TRAFFIC, EL MARIACHI and DESPERADO, getting back from Mexico is high on my "Vacation To Do" list. With my vast international travel experience at my disposal I decide to try and trip her up, like Bobby Goren would do if this was an episode of LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT.

"But I walked into Canada and all I had to do was pay them a quarter."

"As I've said, it's not our rule, but the Mexican government's."

Considering that Mexico doesn't immediately jump to mind when I think "rules and regulations," I continue my cross-examination.

"Okay, so what you're telling me is that I could fly to San Diego, rent a car, drive across the border without any documents, go to the wedding, drive back across the border, get on a plane in San Diego and fly back to Baltimore... but you can't let me get on the plane? You're joking, right?"

"Sir, there's nothing to joke about."

"Alright, I can't believe this. I'm getting on that plane."

Sensing a trip to a bail bondsman in her future, my calmer girlfriend steps in and inquires, "Isn't there something we can do?"

"Well," my newfound nemesis replies, "you could obtain an Affidavit of Citizenship."

I am immediately cheered by news of this official-sounding solution and politely ask, "And how would we go about getting one of those?"

"You'd have to get a notary public to provide one."

"Based on what information," I inquire, confusion and puzzlement duking it out in my head.

"Well, you would show them your identification and they would provide the Affidavit of Citizenship stating that you're a citizen of the United States."

"What identification?"

"Driver's license, passport, social security card," she rattles off, sounding bored and bothered by my question.

"So I show them my driver's license, which you've stated ISN'T an official form of ID...?"

"That's correct."

I step back from the counter, hoping that the distance between us will clear my head and prevent me from leaping over the counter and strangling the life out of her with my bare hands.

"Okay, let's recap. You can't let me on the plane without an official form of ID."

"Correct."

"But, I can go to a notary public, give them the same ID, have them complete a form, pay 'em a couple bucks, bring it back here... and I can get on the plane?"

"That's correct."

"Aigh! You HAVE to be kidding me!"

"No sir."

"Is there a notary public on the premises," my girlfriend politely interjects, attempting to further disarm the rapidly-deteriorating situation.

After further conversation, a few garbled intercom announcements and a visit to the currency exchange counter we determine that there is no way in hell that I am getting on a plane bound for Cabo San Lucas anytime soon. In a fit of compassion Mary M retickets us for the next day's flight and tells us that we will need a birth certificate (about two hours away), my voter registration card (ditto), or the increasingly-official sounding Affidavit of Citizenship (further known as the AOC) in order to board the plane the following morning.

to part 2...



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