What would you do if you lost the one thing you needed to get home?
| The Passport
"Been away from home long?"
I looked over at the older lady on the opposite side of the empty row of chairs and offered her a weary smile. If only she knew. It was long. It felt like forever. A month ago, I was given the opportunity to take a once in a lifetime trip. Africa sounded like it fit that bill and so without hesitation I took it. Travelling up and around the western coast; sampling exotic food; meeting interesting people and taking enough pictures to fill the biggest museum, filled all 30 days. Home called to me, and now I just longed for my own bed and a month's worth of cheesy Netflix.
"Seems like it's been forever, but just a month. Doing some blogging for a new job I'm starting in a week. Travel job."
"What's blogging, dear?"
"It's..." I started, only to be interrupted by my name being called by the ticket agent at the booth of the airline I had chosen to fly home. "Was nice to talk to you; have a safe flight home."
"And you as well."
As I walked away, I could have sworn I heard the old lady say 'If you get there,' but I think it was just my overtired brain playing tricks on me or snippets from the horrible play I watched last night at a local divvy theater about a person who was stuck in some God-forsaken, backwater town because of a stolen passport. As I neared the small booth and shifted my uncomfortable backpack to the other shoulder, I pulled out my ticket and passport to have ready so that I could get this done faster.
"Ms. Nester? May I see your passport and ticket confirmation again?"
"Sure. Is, there a problem?" I asked anxiously.
"I'll let you know in a minute."
That didn't sound comforting at all, but I didn't want to make a fuss or cause a scene, especially being in a foreign country. Just don't do or say anything stupid or alarming, I warned myself as the dark eyes before me suddenly looked up and then narrowed.
"What's going on? Is something wrong?" I asked in haste; as my inner voice scolded for ignoring my warning from a few seconds earlier to not sound testy.
"Where did you get this passport?"
"What do you mean? I got it in Vancouver, where I'm from."
"It says, Country of Origin is Wakanda."
At that point I just had to laugh, curse insomnia. That didn't help my case. "I'm sorry but what did you say? Wakanda? No I'm from Canada and that does exist. You know, cold weather, polar bears, maple syrup; I'm generalizing here. Let me see..." I tried to reach for my passport, but she pulled it back and then turned it to face me. "Wait, no that's not...place of birth? Asgard? Okay this is a joke, right? You did the old switcharoo? Can I please see that? It should be navy blue not purple! Where did that come from?"
"You can see it good enough," she replied with a small snap in her somewhat broken English.
"Where?" I demanded.
"You gave it to me. Just now."
I stared at the item before me, literally stupefied. My date of birth was correct as was my full name and address. My deer in the headlights picture was also the same as I remembered it being taken in the little passport photo shop, inside the Granville Island Market. I was so tired and just wanting to get home I just shook my head, and then reached for my phone.
"I'll remedy this in a second. But I need my stuff back."
"You cannot get on the plane and leave this place without a valid documentation."
"Look, I am getting on that plane and going home. Now I don't know what you did but...but I'll call the Canadian Embassy. They'll have me on record for sure."
"They only have record of Canadian Citizens. Not from Wakanda."
"Wakanda isn't real!"
"Yes, it is! Wakanda Forever!" Someone in the background shouted before laughing; some jovial idiot that was going to hinder my escape out of here, more so than help me.
"Ignore him," I chirped as I pulled my phone, and called the Canadian Embassy.
I shuffled away from the booth a few feet, but then noticed two security guards casually walk toward me and my nervous anxiety started to build. I tried to furiously punch my way through the stupid automated menu system only to be connected with someone who at first didn't seem very helpful.
"Look, my passport was stolen, and I cannot leave here. You should have a copy on file!" I stated loud enough for the ticket agent and security to hear. Figured if they were trying to pull a fast one, then they might think twice if they knew I had valid documentation to help me get out of here. Suddenly I became even more paranoid and started to check through my small knapsack on my shoulder. What if someone had put something in there and it was a setup? I cannot spend time in an African jail. I have a new job starting next week!
"No, I can't...yes, I'll hold!"
"Is there a problem, ma'am?", One of the security guards asked me as the other hovered a few feet behind him.
"Yes, my passport was stolen and replaced with a fake. But I'm on with my Embassy and they'll figure it out! Yes, I'm still here!" I snapped in annoyance as I started to pull away from the security guards, my heart rate now starting to climb to a new level of anxiety.
"Who do you think stole it?", the other asked as I shrugged and then looked away. But as I was about to walk a few more paces, I looked up and noticed a man watching me intently. Another level of inner anxiety was achieved as I started to pull away a bit more and then stopped by another desk.
When I looked up the man was up off his chair and milling around the area of the booth. Genuine panic started to take hold. I found nothing suspicious in my bag but maybe it's because I'm not an official drug mule and don't know where to look! Calm down Deb, I told myself. Acting suspicious won't do you any favors!
"What are they saying to you?", the ticket agent asked in a loud tone as I marched back up to her and snatched the passport and ticket stub from her grasp.
"I am allowed to keep this!"
Not really a smart thing to do, for as soon as I had done that, the security guards started to near me, and I just turned and marched toward the women's washroom. I got inside and leaned against the cold wall and closed my eyes for a few seconds, praying my heart rate would return to normal and the pounding in my ears subside long enough for me to formulate a new plan.
I cannot miss my plane! I need to get back home! But as I dared to peak around the corner, I noticed that creepy man talking to the two security guards and I could have sworn I saw him slip one of them something. There must be a reasonable answer for all of this!
"Hello? Look I am stuck in the bathroom here because two security guards are trying to give me the shakedown!" I barked at the timid-sounding clerk on the other end of the static line. "Yes, there is an echo. Yes, I'll hold again. I've been holding for so long in here I think people think I'm...I'm in a bathroom! Trapped...in this hell..." my voice died out as I dared to look back outside.
Just as I did the man's face appeared and I uttered a small yelp of surprise and pulled back in a defensive pose.
"Whoa! Hold on...you dropped this!" he said as he held up my phone case. I had been so caught up in a frenzy of worry that it popped off and I didn't even notice. "That lady at the booth is asking for you."
I looked past him and noticed that the two guards had now left and felt that I'd either make it to her where she'd tell me I was clear to go home, or the guards were waiting, and I'd never see freedom again. I'd be stuck in a third world hellhole at the mercy of some butch women with only a broomstick to keep myself company! Oh, cue the melodrama, I inwardly groaned.
"Thanks," I offered curtly as I pushed past him and hurried toward the waiting booth. "Did you find my passport?"
"No. But Embassy faxed us copy of your paperwork. If you want to get on the plane, you can now board."
"Just like that?" I asked suspiciously as her brow furrowed in confusion.
"Do you want paperwork?"
"Yes! Course. I do," I stammered; my voice sharp but the tone lowering as she showed me the paperwork that I had been on the phone for the last hour trying to get a hold of. It was official and the information on there was legitimate. "So...I can go, right?"
"Thanks." I wasted no time as I took the stamped paperwork, stuffed them into my bag, zipped it up and hurried toward the gate where I handed the agent my boarding pass and hurried down the ramp. I could hardly get to my seat fast enough and strap myself in. I think I lost 10 pounds in the process; not to mention all the odd looks I garnered; people probably thinking I was guilty of something.
I turned and looked out the window and told myself this would soon be over, and I'd be on my way home.
"Well, hello again."
I looked up in surprise as that same man from the airport slid into the seat one away from me and offered me a kind smile. I automatically raised my hand when he reached into his pocket and then paused; a few surrounding passengers looking at me in wonder.
"Sorry. Been a long day."
"I have...the same passport. Got it at the same kiosk as you did last night," he showed me the same fake Marvel-esque passport that I had gotten. "There was quite the crowd there."
"Last night...kiosk...Marvel...right!" My brain finally connected all the weary dots. This is what a bad movie, lack of sleep, a Marvel addiction and an overactive imagination got me. Paranoia. However, I did lose my real passport, and that still worried me.
But a few minutes later, the overhead paging system came to life with a comforting message that we were to get ready for departure - we're going home. As I settled into my seat for the long flight home, I learned the name of the man beside me - James, that he lived in Calgary, worked in the oil industry and that we both liked Marvel movies. I would see him again. In a month. At the same time, the lady from the hotel where I stayed the night before, would find my real passport, call the Canadian Embassy, and have it delivered to them a few hours later. All would be fine.
I couldn't wait to get home and start my new job. My first blog post would not lack for interesting content!
Hope if you read you found it kinda funny and whimsical and please do review before you go as feedback is so appreciated for continued growth. thanks everyone!