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Monday, November 30, 2009

November 30

it's been a blur..... the trip to Kansas City was memorable in many ways. i made some friends, strengthened my ReStore manager network south of the border, ( i was the only Canadian there) and learned some things. one of the big lessons is not to keep all I.D, money, passport, etc. in one place. my wallet disappeared @ the airport moments before my flight, and i wasn't allowed to leave the country. it took nearly an additional week in K.C. to pull it all together with the Canadian Consulate, and get home. my first conversation with them went something like this.....

after explaining that my wallet was missing, with all I.D., money, credit cards, passport, etc. in it, and the airline wouldn't let me fly home, the gentleman on the other end of the line (who was at the nearest Canadian Embassy, which was in Dallas, Texas) said,

"Well we need to see you in person to make a positive I.D. you'll have to come to Dallas."

"how am i supposed to get to Dallas?"

"just take the next plane"

"i'm calling you because they won't let me ON a plane with no passport or I.D."

"oh. well, then, you'll have to drive."

"how am i supposed to drive with no money, credit cards, driver's licence or identification?"

"oh. well, if you could get to the Canadian border, we could probably get you across."

"even assuming i can GET to the border with no money, credit card, driver's license or identification, that still leaves me @ the border.... how many thousand miles from home....? with no money, credit card, driver's licence or identification....!"

"oh. well then, you'll have to get passport photos taken, and have someone verify who you are, and mail them to Dallas with your flight itinerary."

so, K, i did that. this was friday evening, so the consulate wasn't open again till Monday.... after a weekend of fretting, i got a call from the consulate saying they had the photos but they needed my flight itinerary.

"i sent my flight itinerary with the photos."

"no, that's your old flight itinerary for last Friday. we need one for your return trip this week."

"how am i supposed to book that when i don't know when you're going to let me out of the country?!"

it was an entire week of beurocratic indigestion. added to the international beurocracy was the fact that possession of the townhouse i'd bought was supposed to be that monday.... so i was faxing and phoning and this-ing and that-ing with realtors and lawyers and insurance companies on top of trying to get the paperwork together to get home.

but the Habitat for Humanity and ReStore folks in K C incredible, and the hotel put me up for almost an entire extra week, with many hours of long distance phone calls every day, at NO CHARGE!!!!

and while i was there, the Playing For Change bus pulled up right under my window!!! they were staying at my hotel for the KC concert. so i immediately found out where they were playing (at the very cool Uptown Theatre) and took myself to the concert. even got my granddaughter the t-shirt.

but boy, was it good to be home. even with the rotten cold and ice. and i've been moving and unpacking and sorting the new house ever since....

....and getting the final work done on an upgrade to the ReStore that was started before i left. hysteria has it's use, though.... at one point in KC i spoke with my staff, asking if the gasfitter had come to set up the new furnace yet. no, he hadn't even called back yet.... (this had been ongoing for more than a month) i told the fellows.... "here's what you're going to do. you're going to call him right now, and you're going to tell him that if that furnace isn't installed and operating by the time the manager gets back, he'll be dealing with a hysterical woman who's been stranded in the states for a week. it could get ugly." within a half hour i had a call back from them.... "he's here, and he's got a quote for the work." he was finishing it up as i drove into the lot on my return.

i may still be a bit hysterical.... things haven't slowed down since i got home.....


Cicero Sings said...

Oh my, what an experience! No wonder we haven't heard much from you these days. What a terrible feeling when you realized all was gone. Dear,dear. But I'm glad you are safe and sound at home even if it is a new home and taking getting used to. Hope the pace settles soon into a comfortable dull roar.

susan said...

Oh Gfid, what a nightmare for you and yet too what a wonderful teaching you received about the kindness of strangers. Of course, you also got some lessons about the idiocy of bureaucrats that kind of balances the other one.

I had a friend who had her passport and all the rest stolen in Madras while riding on a bus. The weird thing was that I'd made both of my friends comfortable 'valuables' bags they could wear under their clothing but she forgot hers because they were going to be late for a meeting. It ended up costing her an extra month in southern India which they enjoyed immensely.

I hope everything is coming together with your new place and the Re-Store. You do tell a very good story :-)

Seraphine said...

blessings on your new home.
and what an insane experience in kansas city. it's a good lesson though, about keeping money and identification separate.
i never leave my drivers license with my passport.
I pack an extra credit card and extra cash with my passport.
and i keep a xerox copy of my passport in my luggage "just in case."
thankfully, knock on wood, i've never had to use it.
and of course, when it rains, it pours, no matter what you do.
welcome home.

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Granny F
Sorry to hear about your wallet loss and the ensuing bureaucratic nightmare. I have often wondered with all of the modern day attention to security how you would recover from such events and you have confirmed my worst nightmares. However we do have an excellent service in Australia catering for such an event called Sentinel which guarantees to replace all of your stolen documents such as passports and credit cards anywhere in the world within 24 hours and cost $25 PA. I have taken out cover but I hope I never have to use it overseas. Locally however thieves recently broke into the back of our car by smashing the back window and stole my wife’s handbag. Although I notified the bank and police within 30 minutes that had already used my credit card to purchase cigarettes for $190 before I could cancel the card.
At least you’re ReStore folks in K C indicated their true helpful colors to add well deserved support. What a shocking ordeal, you did well to maintain realtive composure!! .
Best wishes

gfid said...

Cicero - yes, it was frightening. i came close to kissing the ground when i got off the plane at home.... except that my lips would have frozen to the pavement. home is beginning to feel like home now, thanks.

Su - yes, i learned some important lessons... guess i was (and probably still am) pretty naive. yes, things are coming together. working at the ReStore is extremely satisfying, and i have only a few loads left of big things that i can't move myself, to bring to the house. kind words about storytelling from you carry great weight. (warm glow)

Sera - i'll save the tip about extra copies in dif locations for later use, thanks. my board chair says she's never letting me out of her sight again, but i'll sneak off eventually. i love to travel. the house feels blessed, many thanks.

Lindsay - yes, most unsettling... not something i care to repeat. i've heard, since, that there are services similar to what you mention, here as well. will check into them before venturing forth again. the best prevention of these things seems to be to be prepared for their eventuality. many times during my week in KC, and especially after one of the many encouraging conversations with folks calling to check on me, i thought, "these are my people." a very new, and powerful feeling from me, as i come from a very dysfunctional family background. none of them could be expected to provide such (or any) support.

clairesgarden said...

not a good experience, however you found some good people and thats a blessing.

gfid said...

claire - yes, there's good in anything, if we look hard enough. and i think i've made some lasting friends through it all.