When Pip dropped me at Sydney International terminal last Tuesday morning, I lined up at the check-in counter, my electronic ticket and passport in hand.
"How long are you staying in the States?" the nice Qantas lady asked me.
"I live there," I replied. "I have a green card."
"May I see it, please?" she asked.
"Certainly," I replied, opening my passport wallet. "It's right ... er ... um ... it seems to be missing."
It was not in my handbag. It was not in my suitcase. My green card was gone.
I weakly offered her my US Social Security card as a consolation prize.
"Sorry," said Nice Qantas Lady. "I have to put your green card information into the computer here. Without it, you can't enter the U.S. without a return ticket."
Deep breath. "OK, so what do I have to do?"
"If you want to fly today, all you can do is go over to the sales office and buy a ticket from the U.S. back to Australia. Get a fully-refundable one. Then go over there to that computer terminal and apply for a visa. If you're quick, you'll still make your flight."
"Right," says I, and headed off to do just that. While waiting in line at the sales office, Nice Qantas Lady ran up to me with a little card in her hand. "Is this it?" she asked. "Someone handed it in."
YES! My green card! Whew! It must have fallen out while I was standing in line. Thank you, honest person who handed it in!
So now I keep the green card sleeve upside down inside the passport wallet, so that the card cannot easily slip out.
It seems that Rhea is not the only one who loses important documents when travelling.