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My own unforgettable moment

PAULETTE BALLARD
Guest Columnist

This week I’m giving you my moment because it’s one I will definitely never forget.
My husband and I were given a cruise several months ago and we had to take it before Feb. 28. Our anniversary is March 4, so we chose the week of Feb. 23-March 2. This was the last week the cruise could be taken, but we didn’t foresee any problem there.
We planned our shore excursions, paid for them in advance, made transportation arrangements and reserved a hotel room in New Orleans for the night before we sailed. Everything seemed to be “smooth sailing” so far.
Have you ever heard “so much for the best laid plans?”
Last Saturday at the mall I was asked to show my picture ID when I made a purchase. I could not find it anywhere in my purse. After returning home I took everything out of the purse and searched it again to no avail. I frantically searched the pockets in all the clothing I had worn for the past few weeks. No driver’s license. I called places I had been lately to see if it had been turned in — no such luck.
In order to go through security at the airport and board the ship, I had to have my driver’s license or a passport. My passport was expired so that wasn’t going to help me. I applied for my duplicate driver’s license online the night I realized it was missing. The next day was Sunday and Monday was President’s Day, hence, the DMV and Post Office were closed.
My terror was palpable and I was frantic that I wouldn’t get to go on our cruise. Tuesday morning I called Raleigh and was told it would take over a week to receive my new driver’s license. My heart was beating so fast it could probably be heard across a room. Calling around to every Post Office within a 50-mile radius, I was told it would take two weeks to get a new passport.
I started researching on my trusty computer and found a reliable source that promised to provide me with an emergency passport within 48 hours. I called them, they told me which forms to download and print, what to fax to them, and how to go to the Post Office to complete the process. They told me a Post Office in Newton could perform the tasks needed.
I paid all the fees, paid an extravagant amount of money to have it overnight express mailed and prayed it would all work out. The next day I called the passport and visa company in Santa Monica, Ca. to confirm they had received my package. They had not. I then called the USPS tracking phone number and they told me it had been delivered to the appropriate address that morning. I called the passport company back and they assured me they didn’t have it. Calling the Post Office again, they realized they had an older woman having a panic attack at Defcon 1 on the phone and they agreed to track it for me.
The passport company called me two hours later and said they had my package. I was assured again I would have it back by Friday. Our flight leaves at 11 a.m. Saturday, so it was imperative that I have it on Friday. I received a phone call from the passport company at 8 p.m. Thursday and was told my package had left their office and I should receive it by 10:30 a.m. Friday. Sleep was not going to happen that night because I knew if the passport didn’t arrive Friday morning I was doomed. Fortunately, at 9:45 a.m. Friday I received it, and for the first time since last Saturday the bricks on my chest were lifted and I could breathe normally. We were going on our cruise after all and now all we needed to do was get to the airport on time, ask for a Bloody Mary and fly away.

Paulette Ballard collects interesting, funny and unusual stories from people in and around Lincolnton. If you have a story you would like to submit for her column, e-mail it to pballardnc1029@yahoo.com. In the subject line type “For your column.” Include your name and phone number for her to contact you.

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