Letters: Real ID is stupid, and Congress is lame
Regarding: “Real Trip-Ups With Real ID,” On the Spot, by Catharine Hamm, Jan. 12: Stupid, stupid, stupid. Why bother? Get a passport — does the same job in the U.S., and it takes you overseas too. And lasts for 10 years.
The do-nothing Congress finally did something. It passed a Real ID law that is good for nothing. What purpose does it serve?
The documents they require — a Social Security card, a birth certificate and a passport —can all be fake. How would the DMV ever verify a 30-, 40-, 50-year-old birth certificate from a foreign country?
With all the airport security measures that exist with bags and bodies searched multiple times, a Real ID adds nothing to the security process. As Billy Preston sang, “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing.”
Getting home is harder than getting to the destination
I just returned from a wonderful trip to Colorado with my two teenage grandsons.
We waited about 15 minutes at LAX for a bus to take us to the new lot for taxi, Uber and Lyft pickups. About 30 people were waiting. Once the bus finally arrived, I knew I would have trouble climbing aboard. I’m 80 and have physical limitations. Thank goodness I had two able-bodied grandsons to help get me on the bus.
After we arrived at the new lot, we grabbed a taxi. I had no intention of trying to order a Lyft or Uber. When I gave the taxi driver directions to my home, usually a 20-minute drive, he laughed. There was no way he could take the usual route. We had a huge detour.
By the time we got home, the trip with tip was $60. It usually costs between $35 and $40 with tip, and it took us an extra half-hour to get home
I think of all the people who’ve just arrived from far away and then have to go through this mess. What does this say about Los Angeles?
We desperately need to allow taxis to pick up passengers curbside. Many are seniors or disabled.
Shame on whoever decided to do this. I have two trips in April and am dreading coming home.
Mistakes? They’ve made a few
Regarding the Jan. 5 On the Spot column (“Learn From the Stupid Mistakes I Made,” by Catharine Hamm): I’ve been a tour director more than 30 years, so when I book my own vacation, I am meticulous about details. At least until I booked my flight to India.
I’ll never forget landing in New Delhi to connect with our flight to Haridwar. The Indian official looked at my tickets and dismissed me, stating: “This flight was yesterday.” I emphatically said, “No, it isn’t. It’s in a few hours.”
I argued, pleaded, then asked for mercy when I realized I hadn’t paid attention to the arrival date when booking. It actually landed two days after departing LAX, with the time change.
I had to purchase new tickets because it was a different carrier. But the worst part was that we lost our prepaid hotel and invaluable time we wanted to spend in Haridwar.
After reading Hamm’s column, I reviewed my recent month-long trip to France: All went as planned. Maybe because I really have learned from many past mistakes. I missed a cruise ship in the Greek Isles not once but twice —10 years apart. I flooded a hotel in Bordeaux, France; I left my purse in a London tube station; another year, another purse at the British Museum (both were returned). On bus tours, I missed a day trip to a Greece monastery; another year, it was a day trip to the Plitvice Lakes in Slovenia. I lost a sweater somewhere on the way to Jordan, another at a hotel in Paris — I even lost one in downtown Los Angeles between Walt Disney Hall and the Omni Hotel.
Not one incident has dampened my desire to travel. Most make a story to recount at home; the banal ones, of course, I keep to myself.
I loved reading the travel mistakes. I consistently find myself adding to my own catalog of errors, a few of which you’ll find detailed below.
• Make sure your phone is on the proper international setting, even in Canada. I was meeting a friend in Toronto and staying with her for a few days. She had all my flight details and would be meeting me at the airport. In Toronto, I breezed through customs, thanks to a broken arm that rendered me useless at filling out forms and put me in the short “needs assistance” line.
When I walked out of the terminal and didn’t see my friend, I assumed that I was early and that she was on her way. I plunked myself down to wait, facing the door so I would see her come in. After calling and messaging her through WhatsApp but receiving no response, I figured she didn’t have a signal on the train.
More than an hour later, we discovered that we’d both been there the whole time, waiting on opposite sides of a large pillar. We’d each called and texted the other numerous times, but because I hadn’t adjusted my phone settings, the messages had been stuck in limbo. If only I had bothered to hoist myself up and walk around a little, we would have discovered each other and been at her house already.
After restarting my phone, the ride from the airport into the city was peppered with the ding-dings of our messages finally coming through.
• Pay attention to airport switcheroos. I was in charge of booking everything for a pre-Christmas trip to New York with a friend. In my defense, I was working under pressure, using a combination of air miles and credit cards for our tickets, toggling among websites and fielding calls and texts from my friend/travel companion, who was nervous about the trip, the money, our seating arrangements and the East Coast cold.
The price seemed to increase every hour. With a combination of panic and relief, I finally locked in our tickets.
After a vexing, not-so-holly-jolly trip, my friend and I were grateful to be on our way home. Attempting to check in at JFK, however, I discovered that I had booked our departing leg out of Newark, N.J., thanks to the “include nearby airport” settings that I had apparently overlooked. By the time we discovered my mistake, it was too late for an exorbitant Lyft ride (on top of the one we’d just taken) to make our flight.
Forty-five minutes on hold with the airline, a thick cloud of tension and some hefty change fees later, we were only six hours away from the next outbound flight, which we were lucky to be squeezed onto. We spent the time exhausted and grumpy in a corner of holiday-packed JFK.
• If you’re going to walk a mile (or 10) in those shoes, make sure they’re up to the task. Everyone knows to travel with comfortable shoes, but waterproof and comfortable are other things altogether. I have thick, all-weather rubber boots that I hardly ever wear because they’re heavy, and there isn’t much need for them in day-to-day life. I’ve walked in them, but not much.
I pack these boots only when I travel in winter, which is what I encountered on a recent trip to Vancouver. After getting soaked in my comfy leather boots the first day, I opted on the second day for the waterproof backups. I was just beginning a full day of wandering when I realized that despite thick socks, my little toes were being pulverized by the stiff rubber.
By the time I returned to my hotel in the evening, my little toes had been reduced to bloody nubs. Instead of giving in and buying a new pair of comfortable waterproof shoes, I spent the rest of the trip alternating between inadequate footwear, one day getting soaked, the next day bandaging my abused appendages and hobbling through the pain.
• Make sure your medications are the solution, not the problem. I’ve always been afflicted by motion sickness. On childhood family camping trips up the California coast, everyone knew where we’d be pulling over for me to throw up. We had favorite restaurants discovered near many of our regular mercy stops and activities scheduled around them.
I’ve become nauseated wading into the ocean, sitting up too fast in the dark — you get the idea. So when I started flying regularly in my late teens, I naturally equipped myself with over-the-counter motion sickness medication, which I took religiously an hour before every flight.
I did discover a few years ago that by switching brands, the innertube-level swelling I regularly experienced during any length of flight was reduced to a tolerable human degree and faded much more quickly upon landing. I would still often become nauseated, prompted by turbulence or a strong smell, but if I got sick with medication, what would happen if I didn’t take anything at all? Airsickness apocalypse was the only logical answer.
On a recent trip from LAX to Kamloops, Canada, we were on the tarmac pre-flight when I realized I had forgotten to take my pill. Rummaging through an oversize purse, I discovered with not a little panic that my brand-new box of medication had accidentally been thrown into my wheeled carry-on, which had been checked at the gate because of the diminutive size of the overhead bins.
With my salvation unreachable, I dreaded the 3½ hours that lay ahead. Locating my airsickness bag, I gave a guilty glance to the unfortunate man sitting next to me and braced for what was to come. Then … nothing.
Even when we hit turbulence for the last 45 minutes, there was a slight swirling in my stomach and that was it. On the second leg of the flight, same thing, despite flying in a tiny local plane. When I decided to try flying home without medicinal assistance and again felt minimal discomfort, I couldn’t ignore that I had felt more comfortable on those three flights than most of the trips I had taken with the “aid” of medication over the last 20 years. Not only had my medication been depositing me in foreign lands bloated and swollen for most of that time but it had also been exacerbating my already fragile stomach, the bewildering true cause of the very thing it was designed to prevent. Go figure.
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