07 September, 2013

This is when I'm glad I don't have a heart condition...

I'm clearly not as good at traveling as I thought, as the following story clearly illustrates.

Thursday: I arrived at the airport in Boston about 3 hours early for my flight, so even after I got through security I had a lot of time to kill. I sat down in a bland and uncomfortable airport chair (I swear all the airports buy the same chairs), being very careful to keep all my belongings in physical contact with my person. I made a few phone calls, and very soon got bored. Seeing some power outlets on the wall, I decided now would be a good time to complete the process of unlocking my cell phone (which requires iTunes and therefore my computer). Computer in one hand and backpack in the other, I moved myself over to the power source, plugged in my computer, and got to work. The unlocking process went smoothly, and when that was wrapping up (and I was a good way into an episode of Doctor Who), I realized, almost as an afterthought, that I didn't have my passport or plane tickets with me.

Now anyone who has traveled before knows that these items are THE VERY LAST THINGS YOU EVER WANT TO LOSE! Naturally, I immediately panicked. A girl around my age noticed my distress and asked what was wrong, and when I told her she offered to go look under the seat I had been sitting in before. She came back empty-handed, and I really started to freak out. I was so flustered that I couldn't figure out what to do first: I went over to the information desk, but someone was ahead of me in line so I went back to the seats, looked under a few seats, tried to control my breathing, halfway unpacked my backpack, then ran back to the desk. All I could think was, "they won't let me on the plane, I won't get to Germany, what do I do, this can't be happening!!!" It felt like a dream, and a very bad one at that.

I was in the process of looking under the seats, again, and was ready to have a nervous breakdown when a woman approached me and asked if I was looking for my passport. I said yes, and she said she had just turned one in to security. We went over to security and asked about it, and the security staff person said yes, the one that was turned in matched my name and they were holding it at the supervisor's desk. I have never before felt such an amazing feeling of relief. I was so happy that I gave the woman who had turned in my passport a hug and thanked her over and over again.

This experience made me remember a quote I read on Facebook (where, of course, all good quotes come from). I don't remember who said it, and if anyone knows please remind me, but it goes something like this: Even when bad things happen, there will always be people helping. Look for the helpers. The quote was said in relation to something much more devastating than losing a possession, but the principle applies to many situations. We have a tendency as a species to believe that there will always be people out to hurt us or take advantage of us, and it's true that there are people like that out there, but there are also sympathetic people who will go out of their way to help a complete stranger. In my (maybe) five minutes of panic, two complete strangers came to my aid. One helper every 2.5 minutes isn't a bad deal at all.

Hopefully this harrowing event will teach me to keep better track of important forms of identification. I spent the rest of the trip (all ten hours of it) nervously double- and triple-checking that my passport and tickets were in the pocket of my backpack where I had last put them (I decided that holding them in my hand clearly wasn't working and I needed a plan B). At least now if I lose my passport I have an entire year to get a new one.

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