I was 16, in the Chicago Airport and boarding a Korean Air flight to Seoul in 25 minutes. Our adult leaders reminded us to use the restroom before we boarded the flight. Because our gate was a mile away from the nearest restroom, I worried that I wouldn’t make it there and back in time, so I walked briskly. I proudly made it back with a few minutes to spare and picked up the card game we’d been playing to pass the time.
The gate attendant announced, in Korean first and then English,”Boarding has begun. Those with disabilities and children will be boarded first, and then first and business class. Please have your documents and boarding pass ready when you get in line.”
I quickly stuffed my book, playing cards, and travel sized pillow (see yesterday’s post about my obsession with travel-sized things) into my backpack and joined the line. Patiently waiting, I slid my hand into my back pocket to get my passport and boarding pass and…
…it wasn’t there. I checked my other pockets.
Not there either.
I started panicking.
Not in my backpack.
I knew exactly where I had left it. When I went to the restroom, I had pulled my passport and boarding pass out of my back pocket because I was so worried about it falling into the toilet (that happens more than you think) and I had placed it on top of the toilet paper dispenser.
My documents were still in the bathroom.a.mile.away.
I threw my backpack at one of the guys and lied about starting my period or feeling sick or having to go really bad or something and I sprinted that airport mile back to the public bathroom. I flew into the bathroom, past a line of women and fussy children and straight for the stall I had used and my passport was there.
My passport was there.
My boarding pass was there.
I grabbed it and ran back to Korean Air flight-I-didn’t-care-anymore and I was the last person to board and I made it.
So no, I wasn’t left behind, but my passport almost was and my leaders and teammates thought I was weird and never left me out of their sight again, but I was on that 20-hour flight to South Korea and I never let my passport out of my sight anymore.