The Austin Chronicle

Fly the Friendly Skies

By Marjorie Baumgarten, September 7, 2007, 5:53pm, Picture in Picture

Yesterday I wrote that I believed I had been attending the Toronto Film Festival for around 12 years. Well now, in a roundabout way, I have proof that it's been at least 10. At the Austin airport, I thought all my problems were behind me after they finally found my reservation in their system. Ten minutes of fumbling behind the counter, plus a phone call to a head office somewhere, finally turned up my information. It looked like all systems were go until that horrible moment when I handed over my passport. Turns out it had expired three weeks ago. What followed was about 20 minutes of sheer panic – not to mention total embarrassment – on my part. Supervisors of supervisors were called in, some voodoo was eventually performed, and I was allowed to proceed. Made my gate with only a few minutes to spare. I was so ready for a drink (plus the lunch I planned to grab at the airport before all my time became consumed with figuring out how the hell I was going to get out of the country). But they had no liquor on this flight, not to mention food, which, as we all know, has become nonexistent in the friendly skies. Ultimately, the computer was the only being that cared about my expired passport. Nobody else I was required to show it to noticed or gave a damn. Don’t know what this portends for my re-entry to the U.S. Maybe I’ll just have to stay up here a few extra months while my new passport is being processed. Anyway, this incident is how I know that I have been coming here for more than 10 years. My first couple of times visiting Toronto, I entered on the basis of my Texas driver’s license and a smile before deciding it was time to re-apply for a passport. But times are different now; flying has become arduous and customs officials evidence even less sense of humor than before. I promise I’ll write about the movies soon, once I get a moment to catch my breath.

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