On Wednesday Brenda and I got up early as she was leaving at 7.00 a.m. for Birmingham airport to catch a flight to Amsterdam where she would connect with a flight to Toronto. Brenda gets anxious when she travels and building in a comfort zone of time helps reduce her stress.
Robert drove her to the airport and Peter went along to see her off and they were two thirds of the way to the airport when she suddenly turned to Robert and said, “Uncle Bob, did you put the case in the car?” Robert’s face fell and soberly he said, “No.” Both of them said they had the same tingly feeling come over them at that moment. Robert was calculating the time it would take to go back, when Peter finally revealed, after allowing just the right amount of tension that he had put it in.
I stayed home in Alvechurch with Mum, and it was some time later, when Robert and Peter would have been on their way back from the airport, that Mum asked the time of Brenda’s flight from Amsterdam.
“I’ll just go and check,” I said to Mum.
I had the itinerary in a wallet with my passport, which I had put in the front zippered compartment of my suitcase, but to my surprise, it wasn’t there. I opened the second zippered section—nothing there either. I looked inside the case, but it was empty. A sinking realization hit me--my passport was in the zippered compartment of Brenda’s case. It was similar to mine and had been beside it in the cupboard. My passport was now on its way to Canada without me.
I didn’t tell Mum, who had by now forgotten what I had left the room to look for anyway. I didn’t want to worry her, but I was getting a tad tense (please note the example of British understatement.)
When Robert and Peter arrived home, I confided first in Peter and begged him not to tell anyone. “I can’t believe that I did this,” I said.
“I can,” he said, and reminded me of my habit of getting into other people’s cars and trying to drive them. Why wouldn’t I put my passport in someone else’s suitcase?
Later on Peter said, “Mom, your arrival at the airport without your passport is probably actually your ticket in. If you show up with it, they will probably say, “If you were really Belinda Burston, you would have packed your passport in someone else’s luggage, and you will say, ‘but I did—I did.’”
How slowly the hours passed as I mentally tracked Brenda’s journey home. She should have landed in Toronto at 9.00 p.m. English time, and I figured that she should be home at around 10.30 p.m. But at 11.00 p.m., Paul called to say that poor Brenda’s plane to Amsterdam had been delayed for repairs, and she had missed her connecting flight in Amsterdam. KLM had rerouted her journey through Detroit and she would not be home until the early hours of the morning.
“Well, when you pick her up, before doing anything else, please check the front compartment of her suitcase for my passport,” I said.
He responded quite calmly I thought.
The next morning Brenda called with the full tale of her adventure and to my relief, my passport made it safely home—a fact for which I am deeply grateful.
The passport is on its back to me by registered mail in an envelope described merely as “documents--” just in case Customs should wonder why a passport is being sent to England on its own.