As it turned out, the return flight was also operated by Continental. The reservation information was not clear about this. It was a fun airport surprise. The airline logo didn't print (so lazy), and the printout said "United flight number ____." Very tiny beneath that, it said "Flight operated by Continental."
I missed it. I went to the terminal that housed United. I waited in line for a very long time to check in. (Strictly speaking, first I waited in line for a long time at the U.S. Airways counter because I was fiddling with my new headphones and not paying close attention to the signs. Then I waited in line a somewhat long time to check in at United.) And there it was, an aggressive little message on the check-in screen telling me my flight was operated by Continental.
I was in the wrong terminal. Fine. I marched up to a couple United employees who were chitchatting. When they got done pretending not to see me, I explained my predicament and asked how to get to Continental.
"Aw yeah. Just go up the escalator and wait there. If there's not a golf cart, it will come. Just wait."
The escalator led to a very small circular platform connected to a hallway that led to the parking garage. Sure enough, there was a golf cart sitting there. No driver. I frantically tried to signal the chatting employees from my little round balcony to let them know that someone had abandoned his or her post. They paid no attention. I gave up. I waited. After a couple minutes, a guy came up the escalator, pointed at me, smiled, and asked, "Continental?" I nodded. He threw my bag in the back. A guy in giant headphones who had followed the driver up the escalator climbed in without a word. We were all set, only the golf cart was facing the wrong way. After an Austin Powers-esque 23 point turn, we were on our way. Through the parking lot. Going the wrong way down a one-way ramp. Squeezing between cement posts intended to keep vehicles out of areas. Running down slow-walking airport employees. And finally, there we were at Continental.
Please make the operator of your flights clearer. Thanks a bunch.