“Why don’t I just call the Maui police?”
After 15 hours of travel with a sodden mask on my face, the words “Go ahead and call the flippin’ Maui police” were on the tip of my tongue. Fortunately, they remained unspoken. Our flight from LaGuardia to Dallas had left an hour late. When we got to Texas we dashed up to the gate for the connecting flight, showed out boarding passes, and ran onboard. No one at the American Airlines desk asked to see our vaccination cards or our completed state of Hawaii vaccination apps. Nor had we received an email from American advising us that we needed to present these before boarding to get the wrist band allowing us to enter Hawaii.
When we got to Maui, my partner grabbed her carry-on, sailed blithely past the first and second COVID checkpoints, and headed downstairs for the baggage claim on the main level. When I got to the first checkpoint, a young man in an aloha shirt asked why I didn’t have a wristband. Possessed, as always, of a rapier-like riposte, I asked, “What wrist band?” He explained that I should have received a wristband in Dallas after verifying my vaccination status. I told him about the late flight, and he asked if I had the Hawaii vaccination app. I said yes, and he asked to see the picture. I showed him the picture of my vaccine card on my iPhone.
“No, no, the picture.”
“This is the picture.”
“No, no, the picture.”
“This is the only picture I have.”
“I need the picture that looks like this.” He held up an iPad with a screenshot of a QR code. I went into my file of travel docs and pulled out a print of the QR code the state had issued.
“I need to see it on your phone.” I began to thumb dazedly through the six pages of apps on my phone while other passengers were passing by, so he gave up and told me to go to the next checkpoint, where there was a scanner and computer set up. Once there, the lady realized she was dealing with a technical Cro-Magnon, took the phone from my hand, found the app, and cleared me.
At baggage claim, we grabbed our luggage (which was fairly easy, as by then they were the only three bags on the carousel) when we were approached by an armed airport security guard in body armor who demanded to see our wrist bands. I repeated the late flight story during which he continually interrupted me and finally asked why we didn’t check-in at the second checkpoint upstairs. I said I had, and my bride said, “What checkpoint?” So we started the whole conversation all over again until she produced the print of her QR code.
“That’s no good to me; I can’t scan that. Get your things and sit on that bench.* He walked behind us, thus ensuring we wouldn’t make a mad dash for freedom dragging two carry-ons, a suitcase and two gear bags. At the bench, we recounted how we got past the two checkpoints before I got cleared while he continued to interrupt us at every point and when my bride noted she hadn’t been cleared, while I fought the jet lag and numbly looked for the app, he threatened to call the police. Faced with the prospect of trading in our ocean view room for an exercise yard, room rescue arrived in the form of the lady from the second checkpoint who verified that I was cleared, found the app on my wife’s phone, and freed us from the grasp of the rent-a-cop who was clearly miffed he didn’t get to use any of the police equipment on his belt.
Recounting our plight to the friendly young lady at the Budget Car Rental desk, she was shocked at our treatment and offered to change our reservation to Pay Less, which would save us $150.
Welcome to Hawaii.
*Marked Group W – just kidding.