KN, p. 172 “On the Road: Don’t lose your ID!”


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Almost anyone that travels via commercial airlines has a story to tell about lost luggage, flight delays, or the latest TSA rules. It was such a hot topic among my buddies right before one of my trips that I did a little research and posted, “What does the TSA really do?” Read it here.


Just recently, Sheila and I got to experience first hand the TSA techniques for handling undocumented travelers. Yup. Undocumented. Sheila misplaced her official photo ID (her driver’s license) and had to not only prove who she was, but go through a very thorough search to boot.


Here’s how it played out:


We took the hotel shuttle van to the local airport, ready to fly out on a commuter leg that would get us to a major hub. Something told me to take an early shuttle van, so we arrived three hours before the flight. We had checked into our flight while still at the hotel and already had our boarding passes, so we rolled our suitcases up to the baggage check-in area, expecting a quick handover of the lightly packed bags.


Sheila took out her wallet, but couldn’t find her driver’s license, so she waved me ahead. The airline agent checked mine and took my bag. I stepped away and looked over at my wife. She was frowning. The agent wasn’t busy yet, so he stood there, watching. Sheila took every single piece of paper and credit card out of her wallet, but could not find the license. She had grocery cards, office supply cards, medical ID cards, but no license. Gulp.


“Is it possible you put it somewhere else for some reason?” he asked, so very kindly.


She took apart her briefcase and her tote bag, piece by paper by book. She turned everything upside down and shook it.


“The last time I remember seeing it was when we checked into the hotel.” She sounded a touch panicky.


The agent walked away to take care of other people and we called the hotel. We were put on hold for fifteen minutes while the hotel manager looked in the safe. No ID.


Sheila took everything apart again. I called the agent over and asked what would happen if she couldn’t find her ID. Would Sheila be able to board the plane in this post 9/11 world?


“Does she have a passport with her?” (We weren’t that far from the Canadian border, so that was a reasonable question.)

“We weren’t planning on leaving the country, so, no.”


He called a TSA supervisor, who explained that they would have to establish Sheila’s identity through the Homeland Security Office and after that, conduct an extensive search, a process that could take up to six hours. We would probably miss the flight – the last one of the day.


Anyone that flies in the United States knows that photo ID is required in order to buy an airline ticket and to board the plane. It is usually a driver’s license, but can also be a passport or an official non-driver’s license photo ID. Mom, who no longer drove and whose license had expired years before, had to get one of those in order to fly.


Photo ID is also required when checking into a reputable hotel – not the fly-by-night or rent-by-the-hour type.


Sheila and I had just finished a great weekend at a Police Academy training site – yes, she had fun, too. She shot an AR-15 for the first time and even had a tight grouping on the target.


As the flight time loomed closer, Sheila decided to give up digging for her license and undergo the search and questioning. The officers made a call to the regional Homeland Security office and agreed to accept her business card photo (the card also had her name, website, and email address) that she did have in her wallet. Since several people with their legitimate driver’s licenses had vouched for her, as long as she could pass the questioning phase and go along with the search, she might be able to board. I think it helped that there were cops in the group who vouched for her.


Sheila’s suitcases had been placed on the side, away from everyone else’s. An officer opened them up, pulled everything out, and began the questioning.


“Why are you here?”

“What was the conference about?”

“What was the best class?”

“What do you do for a living?”

“What hotel did you stay in?”

“How long were you there?”

“Who ran the conference?”


The questions went on for twenty minutes. The personal search was conducted in front of the public, but the officer was polite/efficient and Sheila was focused on getting on that flight.


We did make the flight – barely. But, still puzzled as to what had happened to the license that she always puts in the same place.


It was midnight when we got home, but Sheila pulled everything out again. The last thing she looked at was the only item that she had not bothered with at the airport. The badge from the conference. It has a slot behind the name tag that attendees use to store business cards and hotel key cards. Very convenient. Sheila had helped sell raffle tickets at the banquet, thought that a purse would be in the way, so stuck her license and room card in that slot.


At least nobody stole her ID, a nightmare both of us had considered.


Lesson to be learned:


Stick to your normal routines for keys and licenses when traveling. We have those routines for a reason – so that we don’t forget where we put them. Ooops!


We had visions of staying quite a while in the airport. We were lucky that we happened to be traveling at the same time as so many other people who had attended the same conference. We were lucky that Sheila had a business card with her photo on it. We were lucky that reason had prevailed.


*Photos by Patti Phillips


KN, p. 160 “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays for All”



2015 has been a year of challenges for most of the world, with violence at home and abroad in the news every day. If it’s not about international military and/or political power struggles, the media is probably telling us about government conflict or sadly, the latest shooting perpetrated by a disturbed individual. I can’t remember the last time when so many people were so angry about so many aspects of the world in which we live.


And yet, if you ask how they are, how the family is, nothing much has changed. Friends and family members may get sick, lose a loved one, have trouble at work or experience a bump in the financial road, but most would say they are happy overall – that they live a life that’s good.


We may not be able to control what happens outside our circle, but we can control our reaction to it. And we can certainly control our reaction to the events inside our personal world.

During this Christmas, and whatever your holiday season, let’s all promise to:

  • Be kinder to each other, including Uncle Tim who tells the same stories every holiday. You’ll miss those stories when he’s gone.
  • Be gentler in our responses to each other, even when Auntie May spills her coffee again. You’ll need help someday, too.
  • Be less critical of each other. Your way may not be the only way to get the job done.
  • Hug a friend. Hugs are full of comfort.
  • Smile. Often. You’ll feel better.
  • Call a relative or friend that doesn’t get out anymore. Five minutes. That’s all it takes to change a person’s day.
  • Give the gift of time. Stop texting and talk to your friends and family face-to-face. Memories are made when people laugh and giggle together.
  • Give the gift of forgiveness. Soften your heart and forget the small stuff before it gets to be the big stuff.
  • Write a letter and snail mail it to the older people in your life. Not everybody has email.
  • Make every day count. Volunteer, serve, donate. Make someone’s life easier.
  • Give the gift of love. It means the world.


Above all, have a wonderful Christmas/holiday season and a slam dunk great 2016!


The Kerrians will be back in January with Charlie’s New Year’s Resolutions. 🙂


*Photo by Patti Phillips – Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal, Canada


KN, p. 151 “About the snakes…”




In “Is that a body under the deck?” I mentioned the snake issue. We’ve had snakes on the property for a long time, a fact that I am not happy about. Yup, I know that they serve a purpose in the grand scheme of planet health and balance, eating unwanted mice and assorted other small pesky critters that seem to want to take over the world. There are snakes at the golf courses that keep the rodent population down and away from the fairways. Okay, that’s all good.


BUT, now the snakes are out to get me. They seem determined to take over my backyard. I was in the middle of bleaching the back fence and a rattler appeared at my feet. Sheila was weeding the side garden and a brown snake (not a garden snake) fell off a railroad tie in front of her. Lots of screaming and jumping up and down and running happening – me louder than Sheila, I have to admit.



After we discovered a few two-foot long snake skins in the Spring near the deck, we called a snake handler. Yes, there are people that ‘handle’ snakes for a living. Let’s all say a collective “Ewwwwww!!!” for that career choice.


The snake handler told us that he would be happy to come out (for $300) to take a look, but could not guarantee results. The problems:


  1. Snakes like being near a water source. There is a large pond 50 feet away from the back fence and that pond is not going to go away. Before the phone call, there had been a mini-pond underneath the deck, supplying a ready food source of toads and other wildlife. Our mini-pond is gone, but the big one is within slithering distance.


  1. Snakes like wooded areas. Our house has more than 75 pine and other trees inside and outside the fence, with loads of pine straw on the ground.


  1. More than one variety of snake in the yard means more than two snake holes (one entrance and one exit for each snake family) The handler could not guarantee that he could catch all (or any) of the snakes.


  1. If he put down snake poison around the perimeter of the property, it was possible that he might trap any snakes still inside the perimeter, waiting in their sneaky snake holes to glide out when the coast was clear. He promised that we would not like the smell of the poison if he applied it close to the house.





Solutions available to us:


  1. Shoot any and all of the poisonous snakes we see. Except that we live inside the city limits – so drop that idea.


  1. Buy mothballs and spread them around the foundation of the house. Snakes hate the smell of mothballs.


  1. Borrow somebody’s hawk for a couple of weeks and let it watch and wait. And have dinner on us.


  1. Pour bleach into every hole in the yard. Not exactly healthy for the grass/plants.


  1. Cut down the trees and clear away the straw. Not gonna happen, trust me.


  1. Borrow my cousin’s six foot black snake from North Carolina. Sheila doesn’t like that idea. “ANOTHER SNAKE?” she shrieked… Besides, the snake might get out during the delivery car ride.


  1. Sell the house and move to a condo in Texas near Bridget. Thing is, she’s got really big, nasty spiders in her area. Not a great tradeoff.  



We’ve taken care of the food source under the deck, and the rattlers have moved outward, but apparently there are enough geckos and skinks underneath the ramp that keep the brown snake happy. He has expressed no interest in us and other than to startle Sheila in the Spring, he has not made any aggressive moves. But, he is now three feet long and an inch and a half through the middle. We think he’s poisonous, but can’t get a definite ID. The rattlers and the brown snake never seem to overlap their territories, so I’m willing to let him alone for a bit longer while I take care of the known threat.


Anybody have a hawk for hire? Email me.


*Photos taken by Patti Phillips



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