I have a disdain for paper.
Don’t bother me with receipts, ticket stubs, baggage claim stickers, boarding passes, registration stickers for your car or the like. The second someone hands me a physical piece of paper my internal surly teen shows up complete with eye rolling and grumbles about “where the hell am I supposed to put this relic?”
“This world punishes those who refuse to get on the compliance train.”
Much of the time, I anticipate the upcoming exchange and I preemptively declare, “I don’t need a receipt, thank you.” When the item in question is consumable I typically add, thinking that I am hilarious, “I am not returning it.”
But my scorn of paper bites me in the butt every now and again. This world punishes those who refuse to get on the compliance train. There are consequences at times for me.
I’ve been pulled over for the missing registration sticker on my car’s license plate? Why, oh why do we need that stupid sticker? Run the plate numbers. Check the cloud, dude. You can see I’m all paid up with our government. Why bother me with that ridiculous, outdated ritual. Luckily, each time this has happened I’ve managed to find the sticker somewhere in my glove box. Needless to say, there has been a fair amount of head shaking and shoulder shrugging as the police officer walks to the back of my car, kneels on the ground, and applies the stamp of compliance on my physical license plate. (Don’t tell but I’m currently out of compliance — again — and sadly, this time I have no idea where the sticker is.)
My Most Recent Blunder:
“He took the bag, slapped a sticker on it and thrust upon me a paper boarding pass with the baggage claim sticker plastered on the back.”
Most recently, I was flying home from Dubrovnik, Croatia. Whenever possible I travel using frequent flier miles or by looking for special deals. I love to travel and to travel as much as I want I typically need the most economical way. For those of you who are familiar with utilizing frequent fliers, you know they don’t make it easy.
This particular episode had me flying from Dubrovnik to New York, via Madrid — for a 16-hour layover. And then on to JFK to catch the flight to my hometown — via LaGuardia, a whole ‘nother New York City airport, which they do not make it easy to transfer to. Phew. That is a lot of trains, planes, automobiles, and hotel rooms just to get home.
While checking in at the airport in Croatia, the attendant offered to check my bag all the way through to my entry point in the United States. I paused for a minute, did a quick calculation in my head, inventorying the contents of my suitcase and whether or not I could survive without it in my hotel overnight in Madrid. The idea of not lugging around one more thing was too sweet to pass up and I took the airline employee up on his offer. He took the bag, slapped a sticker on it and thrust upon me a paper boarding pass with the baggage claim sticker plastered on the back.
Ugh, you can see where this is going, yes?
I went through security, boarded the plane (begrudgingly using my paper boarding pass), and flew to Madrid. Once in Madrid, I exited the plane with my backpack and personal items in tow – leaving behind, in the seat pocket, my now useless boarding pass. RIght? I ALREADY flew that leg of my trip. Good riddance paper.
The next morning I returned to the Madrid airport and even though I had already checked-in electronically and had a digital boarding pass, they insisted I physically wait in line and obtain a paper boarding pass.
Way too early the next day, I stood in front of the American Airlines representative, blurry-eyed from a poor night’s sleep — inevitably, as I struggled sleeping the night prior to travel. Wait, who is kidding whom? I struggle with sleep. I’m a post-menopausal woman.
Spain is particular and asks quite a few questions of their exiting international passengers. All the probing questions about where I’ve gone, what I did, and who, if anyone, I was with were answered without a single blip. But his final question nearly caused an embolism: “Do you have a bag to check?” Wait? What? I already checked my bag…. YESTERDAY.
“Oh, great,” came the response from the airline attendant. “Where’s your claim ticket?”
Is the whole world against me? What is the fascination with claim tickets?
A Shot Of Adrenaline:
“Here’s the deal. Was my bag ever really missing?”
In literally less than five seconds I went from drowsy to wide awake. No matter what this kind individual did, no number of tipty-taps on his keyboard nor calls into management were of any help. When I explained my (in my opinion) very logical reason for NOT having the claim ticket, he slightly tipped his head while shaking his head back and forth in an “oh, you’re one of those people” acknowledgement.
Suffice it to say, we spent the next 20 minutes or so searching for my lost bag. All sorts of notes were made on my electronic record. And from what I could tell, at least five different American Airline employees were on the case, so to speak.
Still, I had to leave the check-in counter and start the very long journey from Arrivals entrance to the gate. The airport in Madrid is the second-largest in Europe, right behind Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. Trust me when I say one needs time to maneuver this beast.
A few minutes after boarding, I heard my name on the loudspeaker. The request was for me to identify myself – which, of course, I did. And, the flight attendant, exhibiting a bit of disappointment and disapproval, handed me — yes, you guessed it — a NEW baggage claim ticket.
Here’s the deal. Was my bag ever really missing? I mean, what if I had not needed that ridiculous paper boarding pass? What if I had been able to walk through security that morning without the physical stop at the check-in counter and boarded the plane with the aid of my digital boarding pass? Would my bag have made it stateside? Was it just a matter of timing?
My New Work-Around:
It’s never too late for process improvement. This last scare provided me with an incentive for a work-around that will suit me. Upon taking hold of the physical baggage claim ticket that assured me that all my belongings were headed home as well, I snapped a photo of it and favorited the pic.
I guess we shall see if in the future, our “girls/boys in blue” think better of me when I flash them a digital image of that damn car tag.