Working in a hospital, I have become very sensitized to the issue of proper identification of patients. Like other places, we require affirmative redundant identification by the patient before histories are taken, procedures are undertaken, and drugs are administered. For example: "What is your name?" "What is your birthday?" Not: "Are you Mary Smith, born on April 15, 1945?"
All this has made me more alert in other venues. This morning, I approached the American Airlines counter to check a piece of luggage. It is early on a quiet day, and there are no other people waiting in line. No pressure. I hand the agent my pre-printed boarding passes and my driver's license.
"That will be $20 for the luggage," she says.
"I thought I was exempt because I am an Aadvantage Gold member," I reply (while silently noting that the sign on the counter says $25, and not $20.)
"Well, I'll just waive it," she says.
She hands me a new boarding pass, with "Steven Levy" on it and my luggage receipt, which says "ORD" instead of "SFO."
"But I am going to San Francisco, not Chicago. And this boarding pass does not have my name on it."
"What is your name?" she says with a bit of annoyance, although she still has not returned my license. I tell her.
She reissues the boarding pass and luggage receipt.
I review both very carefully. And I wait until I see the luggage tag securely fastened to my suitcase.