I drove to Bush Intercontinental Airport last night to pick up a friend. I decided to park at the terminal and go inside instead of driving through the outside pick-up area because I needed to use the facilities.
Everything went smoothly until we got back to my car. I began fishing around for my parking ticket, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I checked all my pockets, the little drawer for sunglasses in the dashboard of my car, every pocket of my purse… no ticket.
What the heck? I have never lost a parking ticket! My friend sat patiently in the passenger seat, offering suggestions as to where else I might look. After one final survey across the pavement along which we had walked to return to my car, I decided that it must have fallen out of my pocket during my detour to the restroom.
There was nothing we could do but continue on to the pay booth and deal with the consequences. I was like a student who had shown up to class without her homework.
We pulled up to the booth:
“I’ve only been here for about thirty minutes, but I seem to have lost my parking ticket,” I told the Booth Lady. I looked at the parking fees posted outside the booth. Normally, this would have cost me a couple of dollars. Not this time, though! I thought disgustedly.
“That’ll be seventeen dollars,” said the Booth Lady.
My friend, who insisted on paying, handed me a twenty. I passed it over to the Booth Lady, but it wasn’t that simple.
It turns out that if you lose your parking ticket, they have no way of knowing how long you’ve been there, and apparently that makes you a potential Security Risk.
Okay. Fair enough. You’d assume at this point with all the fancy-schmancy technology that’s been introduced to supposedly keep us safer at the terminal, they’d have some equivalent system in place at airport parking.
And you would be wrong.
Before she would accept my payment of seventeen dollars – what you would normally pay to park for twenty-four hours – she asked for my driver’s license. She copied all of my personal information onto a form on a clipboard. We noticed that there were other names on that paper, too, so I was in good company.
Then she made a phone call. To whom, I have no idea, but she was looking at my driver’s license the whole time. Clearly, there was some kind of verbal check on me taking place, which I passed with flying colors, I might add.
Next, she exited her booth with another clipboard and presented me with a slip of paper on which she had written my name, my driver’s license number, my date of birth, my home address… everything that was on my driver’s license. She asked me to add my phone number and sign at the bottom of the form, after which she returned to her booth, accepted the twenty, and handed me my change with a receipt.
The entire process took a good ten minutes. We pulled away from the booth laughing at the ridiculousness of the scene. A pit stop to the restroom had cost seventeen dollars and, worse yet, it was all done by hand – not electronically! And what’s this nonsense about asking me – now an official potential Security Risk – to provide my home phone number?
So take it from me, folks: Do NOT lose your airport parking ticket.