Bob McKinney

These are stressful times, folks.

We have a virus making its way around the globe that’s not only making people sick, but now causing a dent in our retirement accounts.

We’re facing the very real possibility of having, as our choice for President of the United States, a self-described socialist and a narcissistic incumbent with an addiction to social media.

Here in Tennessee, where one would think there are some weighty matters to be considered by the legislature, there is a proposed bill to remove the requirement for a permit when carrying a handgun. That’s because you shouldn’t be penalized for exercising your “God-given constitutional rights,” according to one of our Williamson County legislators.

The main concern of another elected representative seems to be passing a resolution declaring certain media outlets dispensers of fake news.

As much as I am tempted to further explore “God-given constitutional rights,” for the love of our sanity, let’s not talk about any of that today.

Let’s discuss something that, for many of us, is a temporary antidote to dealing with what has just been described: travel.

I’m not saying we bury our heads in the sand, but I’m still highly in favor of periodic siestas.

Sometimes a downturn in economic indicators will lead to some pretty sweet deals as travel vendors try to keep their coffers from shrinking too much. My wife’s and my first trip abroad in 2009, a Mediterranean cruise, was on the heels of the Great Recession, and I doubt we’ll ever travel that economically again.  

Today, however, although I’m not in full panic mode over the coronavirus (yet), I’m not boarding a cruise ship any time soon. Even though the odds are strongly against it happening, just the thought of being quarantined on one of those vessels makes me sweat. I’m not much on cruising anymore anyway.

But if you’re a heartier person than I, and it’s your thing, the cruise line commercials suggest some pretty good deals are being offered.

My wife and I will be going to spring training in Florida in a couple of weeks. We’ve done it before and it’s tremendously fun hopping around to the little ballparks and seeing what the teams might look like this season, while enjoying some fun in the sun along with it. Not long after that, my sons, son-in-law and I have our annual MLB weekend trip on the calendar, this time to Phoenix for opening week.

While we’re having the travel conversation, I would be curious to know readers’ thoughts on the Real ID. Folks are lining up in droves at state DMVs and wait times are substantial.

A statement on the Department of Homeland Security website says the Real ID act “establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards. The purposes covered by the Act are: accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.”

If that seems a bit much to take in, think of it this way if you are going to go into a nuclear power plant (not likely) or a federal building (more likely), or fly (most likely). As of Oct. 1 of this year, a simple driver’s license will not be adequate identification for entering those places, or for domestic air travel.

You’ll have to have the new Real ID, meaning your driver’s license or state issued ID card will have a star on it after you’ve been to the DMV and presented the required documentation.  

If you don’t have the Real ID and you’re boarding a domestic flight (and, I suppose, entering a nuclear power plant or federal building), you can show a passport. But if you have neither, as of Oct. 1, you’re not getting on a plane.

My wife went to the DMV and went through the process. She said it took about an hour. Others have reported longer waits.

I have a passport and a passport card, so I’m not planning to get the Real ID soon. I fly only a few times a year and it seems to me, until I get Real ID, it will not be that much trouble to take my passport or passport card with me. It will be a matter of remembering. 

If I decide I feel differently after the deadline, I’m guessing the rush will be over and wait times will be down considerably.

And finally, while we’re on the subject of air travel, did you hear about the seatback incident on American Airlines in late January?

A lady reclined her seat, and the guy seated behind her asked if she would not do so while he was eating. She accommodated his request, but reclined the seat again when he was done with his meal.

He didn’t like that, so he began to hit the back of her seat, over and over. She complained to a flight attendant, who took the side of the guy hitting the seat.

She told her things were cramped and she shouldn’t have her seat reclined. And, of course, the lady passenger took a video of it on her phone and posted it for all the world to see.

I’m not going to comment on who was right in this situation, other than to say I have little patience with people who post videos online to get their 15 minutes of fame.

And since my upcoming travel will be for relaxation and enjoyment, I hope it doesn’t include any of this kind of nonsense.

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at bmac1018@yahoo.com.

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