Losing It In Heathrow


At the beginning of my trip from Portugal to the US, I had decided to rename myself Olivia to alliterate with 'Organiser'. I had everything in its place and every last corner of my bags accounted for. My overnight bag was bulging but I squeezed in enough clothes for two weeks and put every single item I was going to need for the trip in labelled plastic baggies. I was obsessed. My piece de resistance was buying a small multi-compartment file folder where I could neatly assign and label slots for each piece of paper I needed and as all us weary travellers know at this point, the list is endless. Boarding passes, passports, vaccine certificates, test results, passenger locator forms, hotel confirmations to name just a few. But it was water off a duck's back for me. I had everything sorted in my little file and I was definitely feeling a bit smug as I watched other passengers fumbling to find the right forms and shuffling off to get last minute covid tests.


So when I waltzed into the Heathrow Hilton for a quick one night stay between flights, I was imagining room service with a bit of smoked salmon, a glass of Prosecco and another episode of the show that I promised my husband I wouldn't finish watching until I got back and we could watch it together - oops. On opening my bag to show my passport to the hotel receptionist my mood went at warp speed from super relaxed to off the cliff panic. Where the fxxxx was my little plastic file with my passports and documents? Aaagh.......Everything came out of the bag onto the floor of the hotel reception, leaving my half finished lunchtime sandwich on the desk giving the receptionist the evil eye.


Leaving my bag at the hotel I rushed to take the shuttle back to terminal 5 thinking that my trip (and probably my life) were definitely over. Where could I possibly have left it? I hadn't stopped (had I) between passport control and the hotel? Leaping out of the train I rugby tackled a couple of policeman to the ground, squeezed a tear out of the corner of my eye - I actually don't know how to cry anymore - and begged them to help me. I don't know who writes all those awful stories about policemen but these guys were lovely and started calling all the security points in terminal 5, but of course no one had seen anything. My last chance for a happy ending was swiftly evaporating before my eyes. Was I doomed to start living in the airport without a passport or a single piece of paper that could prove I was legit on any front? I was clearly going to have to get used to a lot of Boots meal deals. The worst of it was how I was going to explain it to my mother in the States that I hadn't made it out of Heathrow?


As I was just losing any sense of reason and hope, my phone rung. Could it be my salvation or just my husband providing me with a digital pat on the head? It was, it was my salvation. A super sweet, middle aged British guy and his pal had found it - they found it on top of an ATM machine. Who put it there for goodness sake? What, me?? No memory of it at all. Anyway, the scene when they emerged from customs could have competed with any airport reunion, including the one from Love Actually. I was so exhausted when I returned to my hotel room, I settled for some warm water and a packet of grapes but at least I was still going to live another day. Onwards.


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