Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bless the German Police

Hubby was in Germany last week, and Sweden the week before that.  He was supposed to return today.
Last night as he was packing up his stuff before he went to bed so he could be ready for his 6:00 am taxi to the airport, he found that he couldn't find his passport.  It was 3:00 pm for me, and I was just getting ready to drive down the canyon to pick up a couple of little girls for a sleepover.
He texted me in shock.
Over the course of our evening of playing, pizza, watching a movie, and getting four little girls arranged on their sleeping bags and figuring out who got which air mattress, I was texting back and forth with Hubby and scouring the internet trying to figure out what to do, which was not much.  He was searching the internet and calling anyone he could get a number for. Since it was about 9:00 pm on a Friday night when he realized it was gone, it was hard to get anyone to even answer their phones. Anyone who did mostly assured him there was nothing they could do, and he should call back at 8:00 am on Monday.  He tore everything he had apart several times, but couldn't find his passport.  It wasn't misplaced, it was gone.
I have his birth certificate and his expired passport and sent him images I'd scanned with my phone, but two days ago my computer died and it's the only one I can get scans from my swell printer off of.  (I'm using one of the many mac laptops we have around the house that Hubby no longer uses).  His birth certificate is a copy of a negative image and I was worried it would be illegible in the phone scan.
It was looking more and more like would be there at least all weekend, and quite possibly until Monday or even Tuesday.

On line all the advice he could find said don't bother coming to the consulate without an appointment, and the first available appointment for passport services was Monday October 8th.  You can put in an emergency request once you already have an appointment, so he made an emergency request on the heels of his October 8th appointment.

Hubby flies so much he's a Delta Unobtainium member, but when he called Delta they said don't even bother going to the airport, there's nothing they could do and his best bet is going to the consulate at 8:00 am on Monday.  Nevertheless he got up super early and took the shuttle to the airport.  He texted me from the shuttle at 6:30 am his time, 11:30 pm my time and I thought he was wasting his time.  But of course I didn't tell him that then.  He said his only hope was someone at the airport could help.  I understand feeling helpless and like you want to do something, even if you're spinning your wheels, it's certainly better than sitting around. He was booked on a 10:15 am flight.

He texted me half an hour later from the Frankfurt airport and said it looks bad.  He was pretty sure he could fly out Monday, though, and people were being super nice and helpful.
He texted me again  half an hour later saying it was looking like he might be able to fly out that day.  He found someone to help him.  "German waiters are notoriously bad at customer service - but the German police at the airport are incredible.  Really helpful."

He also texted that he had a slightly awkward conversation trying to explain to a very nice German policeman where he remembered the name "Patton" from.  heheheheh

But then he sends me a photo of a very official looking document with his picture on it and color shades like you see on passport pages.  I don't think it's a temporary passport, but it is a very official looking document.  He has one more document to sign and then he's going to sprint down to check  his bag
At 1:15 I get a text that he should make his plane, and I think he stopped texting because he didn't want to wake me.
He landed in Atlanta around 2:00 East coast time and called.
He said that the customs people told him they'd never seen a document like what he had before.  I'm amazed they let him through.  Apparently the people who gave him the document said he might have to pay some sort of fine.  He said he was getting very tired of telling the whole story to every official who had to look at his documents, but he didn't have to pay a fine and everyone let him through.
He said the birth certificate and expired passport scans helped a lot, they helped verify he was who he said he was.
He also said he somehow got connected to someone who happened to be answering their phone at 8:00 am in the consulate office, and that person knew someone who worked with the USO or some other military branch... but it seems the people who really got the job done was the German airport police.  I think the document he has was either issued by them or issued because they got someone else to do it.
And so thanks to the very wonderful German police, Hubby was able to make his original flight and come home on schedule.  We'll go pick him up in about five hours.

I had visions of him acting out a scene from Casablanca, wandering the halls of the consulate in black and white, getting shuffled from one bureaucrat to the other, trying to get another stamp or signature on some temporary document, which turns out to be the wrong one.  Hoping to get on that plane....

I'm so glad he's coming home! 

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