Every time I travel somewhere, something goes wrong. I am usually an organized control freak, yet I cannot seem to control myself during my travels.
Once I forgot my overnight bag filled with everything I would need for a weekend in New York. Luckily, the trip was only for two days. It wasn’t nearly as bad as when I left for a small village in Maine one summer without any extra underwear. The coastal town of Castine did not have a single store that sold panties, not even ugly ones.
Of course, having to do laundry every single day is not as bad dropping your cell phone in the toilet, which I managed to do on my first trip to Quinnipiac University.
Losing plane tickets, however, is my specialty. I have actually managed to do it twice.
The first time was at Arlanda airport in Sweden, and I had a good excuse: It was very early in the morning.
I had just been to McDonald’s with my friends, and I was walking back through a shopping area, passing crowds at the international check-in counters. At the passport control, a guard stopped me and very nicely asked to see my ticket. I had slipped the boarding pass into my brand new passport, which I had been carrying around in my hand for the last half hour. Turns out, it was so new the hard plastic pages couldn’t hold the ticket tight between its folds like passports should do.
There was no ticket in my hand. In fact, there was no ticket anywhere, at least not with my name on it.
I stumbled out on the floor in the middle of the departure hall. My ticket was gone. I wouldn’t be able to go back to the United States. I wouldn’t be able to start college classes that I had already paid for. I wouldn’t be able to see my friends again.
Tears started rolling down my face. Then I saw two men in dark green uniforms with serious looks on their faces standing in the middle of the entrance hall, engaged in a discussion. I walked up to them in despair, crying “I lost my tickets.” They pointed me in the direction of Icelandair’s information booth, then one of them put his hand on my shoulder and said “I am sure everything will be okay.”
Just as I was asking for help and a brusque, middle-aged travel agent told me I wasn’t going anywhere unless I had a ticket, a man came up to the help desk waving a white piece of paper in his hand. He was speaking in a language I only vaguely understood, but I screamed of joy when I saw my name on the ticket he held in his hand.
The second time I lost my ticket I wasn’t as lucky. It was two weeks after 9/11 and I was flying home to Bradley Airport from a newspaper conference in New Orleans. I searched my bags in the hotel room, I searched them in the lobby, on the shuttle bus and again at the airport, but my ticket home was nowhere to be found.
After spending an hour in the check-in line, I was told there was now way I would be allowed onto the plane without buying another ticket – a ticket for the seat I was already in. But the airline would give me a discount, the smiling man behind the counter said.
Since I bought my ticket late, security requested an extra search of my bag. It was opened and emptied in front of a long line of people waiting to check in. In an attempt to lighten the mood, I asked the guard to let me know if she found my ticket during her search. She did not find it amusing.
We had to change planes in Nashville, and I decided to use the ladies’ room. I hung my laptop on the door of the bathroom stall. It swung around and showed me narrow pocket on the back I didn’t even know it had.
That’s where my ticket was.
I slipped the ticket back into the pocket, walked out of the bathroom and got back on the plane. My fellow travelers were better off not knowing about the discovery in the women’s bathroom.