This is the start of a series of posts on my recent trip to New York the weekend of July 20, 2012.
Are you forgetful?
I hate to admit this but I am pretty forgetful when it comes to STUFF. For example, my keys, my wallet and my metropass.
Sure, I’ve got an explanation for everything. One of my reasons is because I switch between 2-3 bags at least twice a day 3 times a week and I forget to move items back and forth.
Which inevitably, COSTS. Costs me time and money. What a waste of both. Best case: I’ve only forgotten about it at home but it isn’t misplaced or lost. Worst case: lost and I have to replace it.
Well, the worst possible way for me to be reminded of how forgetful I am?…
Losing my passport. On vacation. And only realizing it after checking into a hotel in NYC.
I wanted to die. Right there. I opened all my bags in the hotel lobby and dug throughout. Nothing. This can’t be happening. This is happening. I just ruined our trip. How could I have been so careless? What happens now? Panic sunk in.
Everything seemed to be going well. We got to take the short line through security because my sister had her American Express card. I had the best nap on the plane. It made up for the few hours of sleep I had the night before. It was the first time where I wasn’t afraid during take off, the first time I took Gravol for motion sickness ON the plane instead of before and the first time I watched the takeoff from the window seat without feeling queasy.
My mind was racing trying to retrace my steps from boarding the plane (the last time I remember it in my hand as I searched for a seat). Up until getting off the plane and stopping at Au Bon Pain to look at pastries (yes, just to look) and walking to our shuttle pick-up. I got nothing. The last memory was boarding the plane with it in my hand. I’m kicking myself wondering why I didn’t use my passport holder/wallet.
My sister called the shuttle service and left a message but couldn’t get through to Air Canada. I couldn’t get through to the consulate so we ended up speed walking to the consulate (luckily nearby our hotel). We spoke to a consular representative, I tried my best to keep it together until I had to call some references and when my friend picked up I broke down. I managed to get a few important words in.
“I need your help. I’m in New York. I lost my passport.” *bawl* I felt so ashamed having to admit it. The second I heard myself say out loud “I lost my passport”, I fell apart. This was real. And I there wasn’t a quick fix for this. This was happening during what was suppose to be a fun weekend away.
The first 6 hours in New York, I was scared, panicked and extremely worried for what was to come. Luckily, I wasn’t alone and my sister was right there with me. I felt terrible for getting her into this mess. My stomach was cramping during the entire ordeal and it hurt everyday on our trip. Probably from the stress of thinking everyday “When am I going home? Will I be able to laugh about this one day? How long can I afford to stay here?” Feeling stuck somewhere is a pretty scary thought. I never wanted to be home so badly before.
What ended up happening was this. We ran to the nearest 3 minute passport photo shop (in the heavy rain – the weather was dark/cloudy and was very appropriate for how I was feeling) to get passport photos while filling out some paperwork. We were told an emergency passport would take approximately 3 business days. It could be earlier but could be later. “For real? I can’t handle this kind of uncertainty right now, my stomach is doing somersaults” I thought to myself. This made my sister and I very anxious because we didn’t know when we’d be able to fly back. It was around 5:30 when we were checking into our hotel and starting our trip.
And inevitably, this made for quite a stressful weekend. We made sure to double check our belongings before leaving anywhere. Even though I tried to enjoy myself in NY and I would say I did enjoy myself, I would find myself feeling very anxious about my eventual return to Canada and wondering what I would have to go through at the Airport. Which made for a pretty stressful monday as we had to check in to see the status and decide whether to extend our stay before our hotel check out time. We ended up staying an extra night and had to go through the same drill on Tuesday morning. Luckily, Tuesday afternoon we were called to the Consulate and I got my emergency passport. I could go home and it was a mad dash now as my sister rebooked our flights for that night.
I have to admit though. It has never felt so good to be home. When I passed through Customs, a big weight lifted. And that stomach cramping that bothered me everyday on our trip was gone.
It was a very painful lesson that I haven’t forgotten. The lesson being to safeguard your belongings especially when travelling. Double check, take your time. I needed some time after coming home to collect myself before I could post about it. I even contemplated whether I should or not or just share about the trip and not share this part of the trip. People are going to think I’m so irresponsible. A complete wreck for sure. Aw man, I sure hope not. I hope, that this might make other people feel better when they find themselves in similar scenarios. My main advice would be make sure you always travel with valid government photo ID if in fact you find yourself in my scenario where you have lost your passport, a photocopy of your old one is only helpful in the declaration form (declaring it lost).
By the end of that first day, I felt very thankful. I was very thankful for Sandeep, our guest services representative at The Sheraton, the concierge who helped us look up numbers and let us use their phone and the consular representative who helped me get home.
Have you lost your passport (or other important card/document) before? How was your experience? What life lessons have you learned while on vacation?
Please share in the comments.