No, They Only *Act* Like They’re From Another Planet

A lot of Canadians like to take digs at Americans over how much they don’t know about other countries.

“If it’s not their own home, they’re ignorant,” says the popular opinion.

Well, the popular opinion might want to rethink that, since at least some of them don’t seem to know all that much about their own home, either. Even worse, the ones doing the not knowing are the ones who are supposed to know all the things, especially the things pertaining to what counts as valid American ID and what doesn’t.

According to Brandt, an agent with the Transportation Security Administration took a look at her D.C. license and began to shake her head. “I don’t know if we can accept these,” Brandt recalled the agent saying. “Do you have a U.S. passport?’

Brandt was dumbfounded, and quickly grew a little scared. A manager was summoned, she says. “I started thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to get home. Am I going to get home?’ ”

The long Presidents’ Day weekend had been Brandt’s boyfriend’s first chance to make good on a December birthday promise to take Brandt to see the Grand Canyon. The two were now on their way back, and the next morning, a class would be waiting for Brandt at her Cleveland Park preschool a couple of miles north of the White House.

But the implication from the TSA agent seemed clear to Brandt: The District is not a state; TSA requires a state-issued ID to board a plane.

Nevermind that Brandt had used her brand-new D.C. license, the one marked “District of Columbia” over a backdrop of cherry blossoms, to board her flight to Arizona days earlier.

Brandt says the agent yelled out to a supervisor, working in adjacent security line. Are D.C. licenses valid identification?

Brandt says she could hear the response, “Yeah, we accept those.”

“She didn’t seem to know that it was basically the same as a state ID,” said Brandt, who had only recently traded her Maryland ID for one from the District. “D.C. is obviously not a state, but I didn’t ever imagine it would be a problem — I mean, the whole population of D.C. has to use these.”

Yes, what goes on in Washington, D.C. often makes it seem like a foreign country, one completely out of touch with what’s going on in the United States. But in spite of that, it’s still, for better or for worse, the capital of the country. Then again I suppose it makes sense that one clueless entity isn’t up on the activities of another one. Left hand right hand, and all that.

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