Never have I ever……. lost my passport.
It was a while ago, 2013 to be exact, and I was heading for my first visit back to America since we’d moved to Australia. Y’all, the EMOTIONS at play – excitement, guilt, and fear wrangled for their places on the podium. It’s safe to say that I wasn’t on my A-game, traveler-wise. I’d smooshed too many things in my carry on – all manner of electronics to the point that even a doomsday planner would’ve labeled it redundant – laptop, Kindle, iPad. Paper and pens. Two books. My Canon. Stupid horseshoe-shaped travel pillow. My phone of course. It was like lugging around an anvil. Such a doofus.
So, a confession. At the airport, Mr. Twos keeps up with everything, because I get kind of, well, distracted. Like a toddler really. He holds onto the boarding passes, passports, anything crucial to the completion of our trip because I’m off on another plane (pun intended) planning my purchases at the duty-free shops and mentally perusing the islands of products guaranteed to make me prettier, more rested, drunk, full, and fashionable. This trip, I’m journeying solo, and there is no one to safeguard my transatlantic travel dossier, except well, me.
At the ticket counter, it’s an easy check in with the lovely lady from Virgin, as usual. It’s such a chirpy, friendly airline, Virgin. (Edit: WAS.) I check my bags, then grabbing the two-ton %@$#& albatross of a carry-on, schlepp off to security. “Please take all of your electronics out” – Yep, ‘kay. “Empty your pockets – belt off – sunnies in the bowl – keep the queue moving – step forward this way” BUZZZZZZZZZ. “Step back please.” I tell them it’s my bracelets. They always activate the metal detector, and they can’t be removed except with a special screwdriver. I’ve worn them for 14 years and experienced many a frisk at airports all over the world (yay!). They put me through the body scanner, then clear me to move along.
And move along I do. The albatross finds a soft landing on a trolley that someone has left behind, giving me access to my arms again, and with that, we’re off. Did I mention that
I’m obsessed I enjoy looking in the shops at the airports? The thing is, when making a purchase, one has to show their boarding pass and their passport. Which brings me to the point of this whoooooooole story. At checkout, I have no passport and I have no boarding pass. I check all over my person, even places I know it won’t be (my bra?) because IN THAT moment, I know that I’m screwed and everything goes quiet. All I can hear is the thwack of my heartbeat. My face gets hot, and that horrible tell of mine, the beet-red flush, creeps out to claim its real estate from forehead to chest. “I’ll be back,” I manage to [barely] peep out to the lady at the counter.
I retrace my steps double time, me and the trolley’d albatross. Back thru duty-free, into security. Info desk, this guy looks in- charge (ish). Blabber something about I think I left my passport behind…..
“Spell your surname,” he says.” “C- A- double R- U- T- haych.” Tears are threatening to pool (mine, not his), negative self-talk is commencing- it’s not here, holy shit, my PASSPORT for the love of God, I’m sure it’s on the black market now, sold for a hundred bucks, I’ll end up on the no-fly list….Do you know what an American passport goes for on the black market(!!??) In-charge says something unintelligible (it’s hard to listen to negative self-talk AND a stranger at the same time….)
In-charge says, “Yep, and I reckon you’re a Tar Heel.”
My face surely went from that sucking a lemon look you have when you’re trying not to put on the weeps to the dawning of OH MY GOD, HE HAS MY PASSPORT. Tar Heel = North Carolina! I couldn’t even tell him how drop-dead-shocked I was that he knew about the Tar Heels because relief crying was happening and some words were spewing out along the lines of “thank you, thank you so much, Iveneverbeensopanicked.”
Sparing the poor man my specific terror about the no-fly list and black market passports, I trod that well worn path straight to the Virgin Australia lounge where I immediately attacked vast quantities of coma-inducing comfort food and snuggled into a warm hug from a glass of Barossa Valley Chardonnay. At noon. And it was actually several ‘hugs.’ Don’t judge.
Tell me, have you ever had a situation similar to this? Have you lost your passport in a foreign country? Do you and your partner have different roles when you’re traveling? What are you in charge of?