For most people the answer to that question is nothing. Nothing is more stress or rage-inducing. It’s inconvenient and time-consuming to get it replaced, and if you’re already overseas, well, crap it just sucks to be you! So for all you kiddies, I have a personal story to share. Something far worse than losing your passport. Something so freakish and ridiculous you have to laugh.
In 2009 I took a solo trip to Dubai. I was nervous as this would be the farthest I’ve ever traveled from home alone but super excited to see this mysterious city. I’d just finished reading Jim Krane’s book Dubai: The World’s Fastest City (a great primer btw) and was ready to be there! Naturally, as this was my first solo trip abroad I had some anxiety. Mainly that I would forget my passport. I had a very lucid reoccurring nightmare that I forgot it but somehow managed to get on the plane. Sometimes the dream ended in me crying in customs or getting arrested or being sent back home immediately on that exhausting 24-hour flight. I woke up in cold sweats for a week.
But I was prepared, or so I told myself. I’d been packed days in advance. I registered my passport, printed out my itinerary and important contact numbers, even emailed everything to myself as well as had it on a thumb drive just in case. The day before my flight, my only plan was to do some laundry, make my bed with fresh sheets, and give my dogs a bath. And that’s where it all went sideways. At the time I lived in an apartment building where the laundry room was on the first floor (I lived on the 3rd). So after I registered my passport, I stripped my bed, grabbed the laundry and put everything in the wash. I went back upstairs and started giving the dogs a bath. I’d be done by the time the laundry was done. I was being productive AF!
At the time I lived in an apartment building where the laundry room was on the first floor (I lived on the 3rd). So after I registered my passport, I stripped my bed, grabbed the laundry and put everything in the wash. I went back upstairs and started giving the dogs a bath. I’d be done by the time the laundry was done. I was being productive AF!
I was able to wash and dry one dog, put my laundry in the dryer (on the highest setting possible to maximize efficiency) and get started on the next dog. I was making moves! Now my second dog, Archie, hates to be brushed and usually ends up with a mess of tangles that just need to be cut out. This bath time was no different. I was trimming his ear as he squirmed and thrashed about. To no one’s surprise, I cut his ear and he was pissed. To my surprise, there was blood EVERYWHERE! E V E R Y W H E R E!!!!!! I didn’t know a dog could bleed that much! I wrapped a towel around his head (which he did not care for), locked him in his crate (he was still wet and bloody mind you), grabbed my wallet and RAN to the nearest pet store.
On the way, I stopped at the laundry room to throw all my clothes now piping hot from the dryer into my basket to pick up later. As I pulled the unreasonably hot clothing out of the dryer I noticed something tangled in the sheets. As I yanked and pulled the mass of fabric out fell my freshly washed and dried…passport. Yeah, you read that right. Not being able to deal with that looming disaster I just created for myself, I shoved it in my back pocket and ran to the pet store. Now I’ve walked to this store plenty of times. What is usually a casual 20-minute walk through the Woodley Park neighborhood of DC, just passed the ever popular National Zoo, was a full-on crazed, blood covered sprint weaving through families and weekenders enjoying the first warm weekend of the year.
Because I am no Usain Bolt, between my spurts of running I speed walked (and gasped for air) while Googling “dog with cut on ear”. I found out that it’s very common and although there will be copious amounts of blood, it’s never as bad as it seems. After buying every dog first aid product Petco sold, I went to the metro station (because damned if I was fighting through those crowds again!) and investigated the status of my passport.
It was a mess. Nearly every one of the previous stamps had been washed away. The pages lining the front and back cover were peeled about halfway down. And all of the pages had a lovely curl to them as though they just got back from the salon. Google searches for “passport in the washer/dryer” did not yield many helpful results. After tending to a very annoyed dog (he’s totes fine btw), I put a thin layer of rubber cement (not recommended) and spray adhesive (not as strongly not recommended) on the cover pages, paper clipped the other pages together and stashed the whole thing under an ottoman and piled every book I had on top of it. It then dawned on me, if I were to forget my passport, this would be the reason why. Were my dreams a premonition all along?
But of course I didn’t forget it and although it looked worse for the wear, it no longer looked like it got the full wash-n-fold treatment. I landed safe and sound in the UAE, but my traveler’s bliss was immediately interrupted when the man at customs took my passport and with UTTER disdain said three of the only four words I heard him speak in English “what is this?!?!?” I was prepared for every version of my nightmares to come true all at once. He called another man over to…what? Help him? Give a second opinion? Lock me away? Further shame me? We’ll never know because the guy waved him off in a gesture that he was too busy and deal with it. The customs agent rolled his eyes, stamped my passport, and said his final and most beautiful English word to me yet, “go”.
And just like that, me and my janky passport made it to the fastest city in the world.