The biggest losers take a trip

Give my husband and me something we must take with us on a trip or do beforehand and we will forget it, lose it or come up short at the crucial moment. Sometimes we remember in time, sometimes we remember too late. An hour after we left home for the airport on our last trip, I realized we had left a lot of dirty dishes in the dishwasher.
“Don’t let this ruin your vacation,” my husband said.
“They will be there when we get back,” I said, knowing this was too big of a trip to fuss about a few forgotten dirty dishes.
It was such a big trip that my husband began packing and sorting days ahead of time, double checking that we had passports, cameras, extra batteries and digital chips for the camera. I pointed out that all three of the batteries needed charging before we left. We needed lots of energy for the hundreds of pictures I planned to take of our adventures. He took care of the details.
I still asked him a couple of times if he had his driver’s license for the airport, credit card for the stores, cell phone for our family and cash for tips. He assured me he had everything, as did I.
We were prepared for any contingency, except the one of me losing all of the above the second day of our journey.

Before boarding the tourist shuttle, I tucked all my IDs and cell phone into a pouch hung round my neck on a small rope which I realized irritated me immensely. I yanked it off and put it on my lap with the catch-all carrying the cameras.
I did not even miss it until I reached into my bag to pull out a tip for the guide at the end of the day and found nothing.
No wallet, no pouch, no cash, no passport, no cell phone, no driver’s license, no electronic key to get back into my room.
I double and triple checked everything. My husband and I quickly ran to re-visit every shop we had visited.
No one had turned in the lost items. No one had seen it. No one had heard about it. No one answered my cell phone when I called it.
The concierge re-issued keys to our room, but shook his head sympathetically about the rest.
Using my husband’s cell phone, I canceled my credit card. My husband said nothing about how the loss could really mess up the pre-arranged stops on our journey.
With nothing else to do other than feel sorry for myself, I reached for the camera to look at the hundreds of pictures I had taken.
“Wow! This battery needs charging. Where is the charger?”
He looked and found nothing. Not even one of our chargers or spare batteries was in his luggage, pocket or mine.
My husband knew he had plugged them in to recharge. He called the first hotel on our journey. He talked with them several times, but they never found the chargers.
With only access to pricey camera shops in tourist towns, we knew we would pay plenty to replace the chargers to take more photos. The small pocket camera we had left to use would not suffice for the pictures I wanted.
Inside of one hour, we had realized the loss of two major items we needed for this trip.
“We are a couple of losers,” I concluded.
But not forever. My husband talked with the concierge who had a variety of chargers to loan. We borrowed one that worked for the rest of the trip. Hubby’s credit card took care of my finds in the shops. At the Canadian border we were told we did not need our passports because, “You are with that group of people; your room key will do.”
At the end of the week we had only one obstacle left: airport security. The TSA website said I would probably get through airport security, but I would need to plan extra time to answer extra questions.
I had an expired press card with my photo, a check with the number on my driver’s license and a few other cards with my name on them.
The ticket agent listened sympathetically to my story, looked at the press card and gave me a boarding pass.
Airport security personnel took the expired press card with photo ID and called over his supervisor. The supervisor looked at the photo, heard my husband’s connection and asked if I had a local store card.
“No, we don’t live in this area, but I do have my insurance card, blood donor card and a couple other things with my name on them.”
The supervisor looked at me intensely before he stamped and initialed my boarding pass.
Five extra minutes and we had cleared security.
Back home after 10 days of traveling, I finally turned on the dishwasher and checked the 17 messages on our answering machine.
One came from the shuttle bus company at our first stop. Someone had found all my IDs and cell phone. The company just wanted to validate our mailing address. Happy to have escaped all that paperwork for replacing my IDs, I turned around to tell my husband the good news and spotted the camera battery charger in our wall receptacle.
The losers had returned home.

(Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times. E-mail her at