My Missing Passport

by John Delach

My here-to-fore hidden problem, a problem I didn’t even know I have, explodes on the morning of my scheduled departure from Bermuda in 1998. I am preparing to leave the Southampton Princess for my ride to the airport when the realization hits me squarely between the eyes: I don’t have a clue where my passport is.

“Oh shit, oh damn, oh Christ Almighty; f***, f***, F*** me!” I was operating in full panic mode. “Damn, damn, damn, I know I had it when I cleared Immigration to enter the island and I haven’t used it since my arrival. Where the f*** can it be? Damn, damn, damn.”

Finally, I calm down enough to retrace my steps; nothing. With everything packed, I call the front desk from my room to explain my dilemma. Of course, I stupidly begin by asking the clerk on duty if someone had turned it in. They are courteous enough to send up a manager who accompanies the housekeeper who serviced my room.

It becomes obvious to me that this is a waste of time, so I say, “Thank you both for coming, but what ever happened to my passport was my doing.”

The manager asks, “What do you plan to do?”

“Go to the airport. I am a long-time frequent traveler and they should have a file on me. I believe I can convince US Customs to let me fly back to New York.”

I thank them for their troubles and apologize for any disruption I may be causing. In the cab, I go over my game-plan to put the US Customs Agent on my side. First off, I decide to aim for a woman. The odds are, she will be more empathetic and caring than a male agent.

Plan A works. The agent enters  all my information into her computer and validates my clearance to leave the island and legally board my flight back to JFK. Since I clear US Customs and Immigration in Bermuda, I don’t have to repeat the process at JFK. I thank her for her assistance and her parting words are: “First thing when you arrive home, cancel your passport so it can’t be used for nefarious purposes.”

(I think to myself as I walk away, “Wow, nefarious is a big word and its meaning is even bigger!”)

The flight is uneventful, but my day isn’t over when I arrive at JFK. I had made a commitment to attend a black-tie dinner honoring my colleague at the New York Hilton that night. My tuxedo is hanging on the back of my office door, so, instead of going home, I grab a taxi to take me to my office.

Once in the office, I hang my sports coat over the tux and close my office door. I call my son to tell him what had happened in Bermuda: “Michael,“ I begin, “You won’t believe what happened to me…” As I say these words into the phone, I find myself staring at my sports coat.

Suddenly, I realize what had happened… “Hang on a second, Michael.

I stand up, and exclaim, “Son of a bitch.”

I already know what I will find and where. Sure enough, there it is in the right inside pocket of my jacket, my passport, exactly where I put it on arrival in Bermuda after the immigration agent returned it to me after adding his official stamp of approval for me to enter his island nation.

I shake my head and tell my son what happened. Now that I was once again a relaxed and a happy man, I could enjoy a good time at dinner where I tell the story of my day’s adventures until exhaustion overtakes me and I retire to my hotel room where I sleep like a baby.