Our family of six has a total of 11 passports. I am the only one who has only one. Still, I have been the one who ensures that our passports are up-to-date. About six months ago, I put it in my calendar to renew Erin and Brenna’s US passports in early 2015.
About two weeks ago we began filling out forms, making appointments, and getting photos taken. Last Friday I got up, and by breakfast knew what time we’d need to be at the DART station to get to our 1:30 pm appointment at the US embassy in Ballsbridge.
Shortly before we were to go and catch the bus to get to the DART there was a problem. Now rather than taking the bus, we were driving to the DART. Small change, but I could begin to feel my stress level rise as my plan encountered its first glitch.
A few minutes later, we are all in the car…well, except for one of us. It turned out one of the forms to be printed out, wasn’t. And of course, that is the day the printer decides to flash error messages we’d never seen before.
I do not like to leave stuff like this to the last minute. So you can imagine where my stress level is at now.
But as it usually does, everything worked out. While the US embassy website indicates that there will be major problems if you are late for your scheduled appointment…not so much.
Once the trip was over, and the task completed, I was much more enjoyable to be around.
Of all the glitches that took place that day…none of them were my fault.
The next day we had a trip to Glasgow.
Because I had printed out the boarding passes earlier in the week, two different problems had been addressed already and we were set to go. (See how good I am with this stuff?)
Elizabeth and Erin had their passports, and as soon as I got dressed, I put Brenna’s, Méabh’s and mine in my pocket.
Everyone was packed with time to spare.
Everyone had eaten with time to spare.
About an hour before we are to leave, I double-check the passports, and then open my backpack to double-check the boarding passes.
I scheduled a taxi so that the 20-minute ride would have us at the Dublin Airport two hours prior to our take off. (Because you always give yourself extra time for this sort of stuff.)
We’re good to go.
The taxi arrives and I am the first one out. My bag is in the boot, and only then does the next person arrive.
I start to stress.
I begin to rush people out the door.
Although Clontarf is near the airport, there are no major roads that pass through it. And there are not any direct routes to the airport.
The intersection I hate the most in all of Dublin is in Artane on the Howth Road. As is typical, we caught the same light three times before finally getting through. During the second light, I’m thinking about the taxi fare. I’m thinking about my need to get to the airport. But I remind myself this is why we give ourselves extra time. So relax and enjoy the rest of the trip.
We arrive at the airport with 2 hours to spare. My unblemished airport arrival record is intact.
We take our bags out of the taxi and walk to the sidewalk to get our passports and boarding passes.
You know that feeling when you reach for your wallet or phone in your pocket and it isn’t there? So you start patting all of your other pockets. And you can feel the adrenaline build up until you finally hit the non-standard pocket where you put it.
Well, I didn’t get that experience. In fact, I’m still wondering what I looked like as I patted every pocket I was wearing five times before finally coming to the realization that I didn’t have the passports.
Erin calls Hannah who is still at home. Hannah confirms the passports are still on my desk…Exactly where I set them while looking for the boarding passes.
I jump back in the taxi and ask him to take me home. (We later realized that we could have had Hannah take a taxi to the airport, but not in the moment.)
Liz learns that as long as I check-in by 5:30, I will have enough time to get to my gate. It is just about 5 pm when I hear that. It’ll be close.
When we are almost home…that is when I discover that I don’t have my house key. So I text Hannah…our conversation went something like this:
There is a couple of minutes delay between the, “where are you?” and the “please call me,” texts. If she is on a bus to city centre, I’ll never make it.
Thankfully she’s only on the other side of Clontarf and not in city centre. We drive there, get the keys, get to the house, and grab the passports. I decide that we are going to take a different route this time to the airport to avoid that horrible Howth Road intersection.
That’s when Liz’s update comes in. Security is light and it should only take me 15 minutes from the time I am dropped off to get to the gate.
We’re making good time.
Then we see the flashing lights of the DART train barrier.
The taxi driver announces that he hears the train.
Actually, it was a plane.
After about 5 minutes the train finally passes, and we are on our way. I have never caught so many red lights on the road, the taxi driver says the same. I still think some kid was on a bike pushing all of the crossing buttons.
Thankfully I was using a taxi app so I paid before we arrived at the airport. I am out of the car before he comes to a full stop and in the airport at 5:48 pm.
I run to the Ryanair desk to get my visa stamp and some little kid starts mocking me to “run faster.”
Security is much easier if you have no luggage.
And I made it…with about 5 minutes to spare.
I was a bit sweaty, but not all that stressed.
Not nearly as stressed as I was the previous day with our embassy trip.
Somewhere around the time of the DART train, there was a recognition that the whole thing was out of my control. That perhaps I wouldn’t make the flight. And that would be okay.
There was also a recognition that this situation, which was entirely my fault, had more to do with the previous day’s trip to the embassy than anything else.
When I mentioned that to my family, they all just smiled at me.
And while I doubt I’ll become “Mr Laid-back,” overnight, I do think I’ll have a bit more grace the next time. Hopefully at least as much as my family had to me.
I got stressed just reading this. Glad it all worked out. 🙂
You’re a planner, Bob…which makes it that much more stressful when you have a plan and it doesn’t work out quite as you had imagined. I know how that is. I’m a planner, too. Though I’ve gotten much better at going with the flow. My thought process runs like this: “Is there anything I can do to change or improve the situation now that this issue has come up?” If the answer is “no,” I just take a few deep breaths and ask Jesus for a little peace and calm and do what I can do to fix it.
After working for several years in an hospital emergency room, I have a different perspective on what constitutes an emergency. Is everyone conscious? Has anyone lost a limb? Is there visible blood? No? Okay, this isn’t so bad! 😉
My time as a tour director has also helped me to remain calm (or at least outwardly appear as though I’m calm, even if I’m not)…
Very glad you were able to get it sorted out in time to make the flight though. And you got a mini-workout in, too! 😀