The taxi careened through rush hour traffic between La Guardia airport and Kennedy International. I’ll give him this, the driver was trying hard to make up for my mistakes, but little did I know that my problems so far were just the beginning.
The beginning…I thought back six months to the true beginning of this fiasco. I submitted my application for a passport in a timely fashion – or so it seemed. There was only one slight glitch and I was sure that was handled. My parents had no idea where to find an original of my birth certificate. But I had contacted the hospital and attending physician. Everything would be fine. Four months later I found out differently. Now with only two months to go before my excursion to ‘The Continent’ I was informed that all of the records of births from hospitals in Tennessee had been centralized in Nashville…and they had no record of my birth. My records were lost.
Okay, but I had another ‘Ace in the Hole’, my grandfather was in politics in East Tennessee and he had a friend in the state house. We contacted our local representative, who contacted our state senator. They arranged for a hand search of the records. Time was passing…I was down to less than a month. The hand search came back negative. Our state senator had the records office send us a letter saying they had conducted the hand search. We got a letter from the attending physician saying he remembered my birth and from the obstetrician saying he remembered my mother’s pregnancy…I was real. Our senator was great – he took all the letters, threw in one of his own asking for the passport office to expedite… but I had less than 2 weeks now and they wanted 10 weeks to turn around a passport.
Word came back that they would do the expedite – I should receive my passport two days before my departure. That time came and went…no passport. Time to call the passport office directly. They infomred me that the passport would be ready on my departure day and I could pick it up in their offices on K Street in Washington, DC.
Now here’s the deal. I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I have tickets to fly from Atlanta to Kennedy International in New York, and then to fly on to Iceland and Paris.
Now I have to go to Washington on the same day. Time to call Delta and get new flight plans. They schedule me to arrive in Washington National at 3:45pm, and to catch a flight to Kennedy International departing at 4:45 pm. That will give me plenty of time to check in at 7pm for my Icelandic Air flight. The whole things sounds possible, if barely.
So we are up to four hours ago. and I’m boarding my flight in Atlanta. They announce a slight delay. No alarms go off in my head yet. We fly to Washington. As we approach the pilot announces that there is congestion over the city. We are in a holding pattern. Slight concern begins to creep into my conciousness. I fidget in my seat and worry about traffic in the Capital City at 4pm on a work day. When the plane finally taxis up to the gate at 4:10 I have decided that the Metro is the only way to arrive on time. I go to the Delta desk and have them place a call to the passport office. The nice government employees tell me they are expecting me and they will have someone standing at the door with my passport in hand…What great service. I jump on the Metro at 4:20 – a quick fifteen minute ride from my destination.
I settle into my seat as the train pulls away from the station…for about ten feet, then it stops and the announcer comes on. There is a construction delay on the line and we will have to sit for 15 minutes waiting for the train in front of us to clear it. Now I’m really panicking.