En route to the Dominican Republic last week, I did something I’ve never done before: I forgot my passport. I was already out of Manhattan, deep into Queens, and turning back simply wasn’t an option. I panicked.
There was no reason for me to forget my passport, something I haven’t done in a dozen years of travel as a professional. As I do for every trip, I put my wallet, keys and passport on top of my laptop the night before … so I wouldn’t forget them. I noticed the pile of stuff not to forget the next morning and immediately recognized it as such.
Nonetheless, seated in the backseat of the town car, I realize I’d done what should have been impossible given my insane system. The driver turned his head shortly after I yelled, “Crap!” as one would expect him to do. I repeated the expletive a few times before telling him why. I must not be the first person to have made this mistake in his car, because the driver, from Tel Aviv Limo quickly came up with the perfect solution.He instructed me to call for a new car and explain the situation. They would send a vehicle to my apartment, where my friend would meet them with my passport. Then, the driver would head out to JFK airport, where I’d be waiting in the departure area with the fare for the trip and an incredibly generous tip (I wound up paying close to 100 percent for this service).
Even before I could raise the suggestion, the driver shot down the notion of turning around and going back to my apartment. It would take too much time, he noted, as we’d have to go out and back. With his proposal, a car already in Manhattan could just shoot straight out to JFK. As if I needed another reason, I saw the Queens traffic heading into the city and knew that turning around would mean fighting rush hour. If I made my flight, I’d do it as a bundle of nerves.
Less than an hour from the moment I hurled obscenities at myself, my bag and my passport, I had my documents in hand and was ready to check in. The driver was in touch with me before reaching my apartment (to make sure someone would be there), when he left (to let me know he was en route) and at the departures area (to tell me he had arrived).
The situation unfolded perfectly, but it isn’t universally applicable. I wouldn’t try this with a taxi, for example. I wouldn’t even have someone hail a cab and drop my stuff in the backseat to be delivered to me. The taxi option is just too fluid. To make it work, it helps to have just taken a town car to the airport, though I suspect you could have a car service deliver your passport even if you drove, took public transportation or hailed a cab.
Stupidity may be problematic, but it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. If you forget something important for your trip – so important that you’re willing to shell out some serious cash to fix the situation – you now have a solution at your fingertips. Of course the smarter move is to get it right the first time …