Not a Syllable about the SuperBowl….I promise!

My mother-in-law carried her passport with her every day.

It was always there, tucked in her wallet. Her passport was with her when she went to the Safeway for lemons. She had it when she drove to Mendocino to visit old friends. Every time she went to work at Kaiser in Vallejo as a labor and delivery nurse it was there in her locker.
A naturalized citizen, Elisabeth had escaped Nazi Germany as a girl and while she didn’t talk about it much, that elemental discomfort, the feeling that she might just need to pick up and leave–at any minute!–never left her.

My passport, however, was in my purse out of pure carelessness.

Back in October I went to Ethiopia with Charity: Water, and since then my passport had been keeping me company. Often I’d think, I need to put that back in the travel drawer!  But the thought always came when I was out and about, rummaging for the house key, or the credit card, or the dry cleaning slip, not when I was at home and could actually PUT the passport back in the travel drawer.

When my purse was stolen from a locker at Soul Cycle in December, the hassles and expense were manifold. Cash of course–it was just before Christmas and I was carrying about $300. The handbag itself….of course it was my favorite. Nothing fancy, a Mama Bear purse–just right–though with a touch of style I liked a lot.

Toyota charged me $535 for a new car key.

The thief forged a check for $1800 within a few hours.  The bank refunded that since the signature was obviously forged, but the larger hassle was changing my bank account number. Online bill pay requires changing each payee individually.

Super grateful that my wallet was zipped inside my coat pocket so my credit cards were fine. Fortunately my phone was in the OTHER coat pocket.

Far and away the largest hassle was my passport. Luckily enough I had international travel upcoming and so had to get right on that. A police report seemed a useless exercise, but was required because of the passport.

Can you put your hands on your certified birth certificate? Your Social Security card?…that flimsy little piece of paper from the government? Fortunately that part of my life is organized after my divorce/name change fandango. I even had a copy of the face page with the passport number on it.

If you have firm travel plans–be prepared with a ticket showing departure within two weeks, four weeks if you need a visa–it is possible to get an expedited passport. I got an appointment and assurance that I would receive my passport that very day. Turned out it was the NEXT day…. as I was headed to SFO for a flight to Europe. Definitely too close for comfort, but it did work out.

I’ve thought about all the lessons embedded in the this whole exercise:

Make sure the locker is actually locked. (I’d punched in the number but it hadn’t ‘caught’.) Good to know I can actually work through all the details on something like this, even if they’re annoying.

And of course:

Keep the passport in a safe place at home.




About Karen Ray

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