Thursday, March 05, 2015

Please Don't Tell

Some stories are great to tell. Even if you faced difficulties or had weaknesses, you can still save face through your approach. In a work interview, you may say 'I am a bit of a perfectionist' or any other number of weaknesses that will show you in a good light. Other stories are better left hidden. There are no redeeming features. It may not be a weakness. It may just be a struggle. Something horrible that has happened that will solicit unwanted sympathy. 

I have been umming and ahhing over whether to describe the events of this morning. They are a little embarrassing. Especially since I wrote a post the other day about things that could go wrong while travelling. At 5am this morning I woke up to discover that my passport was not where it should be. That one thing that I said matters was awol. Trying not to wake a household of sleeping little ones, and trying to breathe deeply I went through my things from top to bottom. No passport wallet. Oh dear.

I will write a post about the wonderful community of Avalon on another occasion. I watched two successive days of cricket at the RSC (Returned Servicemen's Club) and met a few locals. One offered (without me asking) to drive me to the station this morning. I left in the dark to take up his offer hoping that the only place I could have left the passport was at the airport. Heading down the driveway to the agreed pick up point I managed to wander through a huge spiderweb. Once in the car I was informed that the only dangerous ones are on the ground so my passport worry was back at the front of my mind.

On route a call to the airport lost property resulted in some quick relief. They had found my passport wallet. It had been handed in with not a thing missing. The passport had been given to immigration. The rest of the ride was a more upbeat trip listening to amusing Aussie banter and Midnight Oil on the radio. At the airport, my relief was short lived as I discovered my passport had already left the airport after not being claimed within 24 hours. It was on route to Canberra. South Africa doesn't have an embassy in Sydney. Bother. 

I discovered SA doesn't do emergency passports either so prospects of getting to the wedding on Saturday were dimming. The only emergency passports are for a one way ticket back to the land of the future cricket world cup winners. I would need to wait for the passport to arrive. I waited for the first postal delivery of the day to the SA embassy (missing my original flight) with fingers crossed. No luck. I would have to book a ticket to Canberra and hope the passport arrived the next morning to have a chance.

After several persistent phone calls trying to track where in the sending process the passport was, I got to the foreign affairs department in Sydney. The lady had my passport and was 10 minutes away from handing it over to the couriers! Boom.

There are several incredibly simple lessons I have learnt from this. None reflect on me well as they are very obvious. Clearly not obvious enough that I didn't need to learn the hard way. Toying with  whether this post was a self indulgent and boring detailing of my up and down morning, I decided hopefully these lessons may help some other traveller.

1. Put up to date contact details and an itinerary in your passport
2. Check for your passport every time you leave somewhere
3. Check for your passport every night

I still think passports are silly and we should be able to go everywhere. But that isn't the way the world works. So until my Utopia of free flowing Global Citizens exists, I need to up my admin game.

I do love the fact that it was handed in untouched. There is a real positive kick in knowing that people look out for each other. Thanks Straya! 

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