A while back, planning for the hoped-for eventuality of more travel of the international nature, I applied for a Global Entry card. Or something like that. I have to admit that I've seen it called so many different things that I'm really not sure what it's called.
But it's this card that - along with your passport - can make it easier to get through Border Patrol on the way back into the United States.
The process isn't too bad, these days. Christopher got his a couple of years ago, and at that time there wasn't anywhere around here to go, so he had to go to Montreal for it. I, on the other hand, just had to go to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.
Well, first I had to pay my money and fill out my application and get the provisional approval. Then I had to schedule the appointment and head for the airport. Where - on the day I was going - the main terminal parking was completely full. So I had to drive to the other terminal (at MSP they're maybe a mile or so apart by car, with a light rail shuttle), then run through the first terminal, hop the train, run through the second terminal, and then - although I'd arrived an hour early - show up 5 minutes late.
The interview was fine. The agent took my photo with his webcam, showed me where the number was on my form, and sent me on my way. And, about a week later, I got my card in the mail.
Of course, I looked at it right away, only to find that the photo is kind of skewed. Really. My head in the picture is a very odd shape. But it'll work. So I set it aside for the next time I travel.
This morning - for no apparent reason - I pulled it back out of the envelope and notice that the side of the letter said "Activate your card within one month or various dire circumstances could befall you" or something like that.
Umm... No clue whatsoever when my card came in the mail. Was it a month ago? Was it less than a month? I hopped on line - because who really wants to be at work on time, right? - and after about 18 attempts at logging into my account (because I never thought I'd need to log in, obviously), I got it activated.
Note to self: When you get any kind of travel documents, look them over. Really look them over. Then do it again.