There are things you take for granted about yourself. Things you just know. Things that don’t change, so they become part of the fabric of who you are.
For example, I know that no matter my mood, I will always cry if a 1980s AT&T “Reach Out and Touch Someone” commercial pops up on YouTube. I know that starting a Kate Morton book will cause me to rearrange my daily life to carve out more reading time. I know that a “can you come?” invitation that involves a grandchild trumps any plans I may have.
And I know that when it comes to travel plans, whether I am traveling alone, in a group or with my husband, I will have everything I need and many things I don’t organized, printed out and color-coded into folders days before the trip begins.
I always have my SeaPass (cruise documents) filled out and ready, two copies of any Visa forms, boarding passes, luggage tags, hotel confirmations, rental-car agreements, proof of insurance and anything else I have been emailed, mailed or confirmed by phone. I have the dates I called to arrange any phone packages, hold the mail and the names of the “service representative” I talked with to get the deeds done. There is an airport folder in my purse, a hotel/car-rental folder in my carry-on and a trip overview folder in the computer bag.
It is simply who I am when I travel.
That is why I did not check my purse when my husband asked: “Do you have your passport?” Of course I had my passport …
It was 5 a.m. Sunday. I was tired, feeling a sleep-deprived headache looming and just wanted to close my eyes for the 15-minute drive to the airport.
Neville was kindly driving me at that unholy hour, so I wanted to take advantage of the sacrifice. When I reached airport check-in, no passport. I got out of line, dragged my 10 pounds-overweight suitcase to the side and went through it.
I called Neville, who had not made it back home yet. He pulled over and did a quick car check and asked all those questions that are meant to be helpful but just irritate in a crisis: Did you check your purse? Did you look in the side pocket of your carry-on? Could it be on your desk at home?
At this point, I was so stressed that hearing the passport had been found on the Mars Rover wouldn’t have surprised me. Neville agreed to continue home and look in the usual places there.
As happens in airports, I quickly reached the point of no return. I could get through security and fly to Florida with my boarding pass and driver’s license, but I knew there was no way to board a cruise ship whose itinerary included a stop in Havana without a passport. It simply would not happen.
I decided to go ahead and fly to Florida, realizing I might be turning around the next day and heading home.
By the time I landed in Fort Lauderdale, the passport had been found between the seats in Neville’s car. What then began was a lesson in logistics.
Overnight delivery is normally a fairly easy thing to make happen. That, however, is anything except true on a Sunday. You can find carriers who will do Sunday deliveries, but not Sunday pickups for Monday delivery. None of the carriers will let you drop off packages on Sundays for a Monday delivery.
As we pondered our options, it occurred to me that there were over 10,000 items I could order on Amazon on Sunday and have on my doorstep or at my hotel room by 10 a.m. Monday. Unfortunately, an official U.S. passport is NOT one of them.
We discovered that UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Post Office take Sundays off. Even the distribution centers at the airport that are staffed to load and unload packages and freight don’t accept new shipments.
My husband scoped out Delta Cargo delivery, and my passport got an expensive ride on Delta from Knoxville to Atlanta, of course, and then to the Delta Cargo dock in Fort Lauderdale. A Lyft driver took me there, and I picked up my passport at 10:30 Sunday night.
It was a rookie mistake, committed by a seasoned traveler who should know better. Lessons learned and all that.
By the way, the birthday present I ordered online from Amazon for my grandson at 1:45 p.m. Sunday arrived at his house in Franklin at 1:23 p.m. Monday.
Shipping was free.
It’s a strange, strange world …