Oh, no! My passport’s been stolen!
I had just arrived in Copenhagen. I was hot and sweaty, and had flung off my fleece vest onto the hotel bed. That’s when I noticed that the zipper to my shirt’s secret pocket was open. The pocket was empty. My passport was gone.
I would have to call the Danish police, the U.S. Embassy. My stay in Copenhagen would be ruined by endless bureaucracy.
I did have a copy, but it was only a copy. Would I be allowed on the plane back to the U.S., or would I be detained at the airport and miss my flight?
How could this have happened, when I had been so careful to store my passport in the hidden pocket? In addition to having a zipper, it had added security–when I bent my left arm by my side, the sturdy, slim book touched my elbow, constantly reassuring me of its presence.
Of course, there were times when I removed my passport–whenever I boarded a plane or checked into a hotel. Then I simply slid it back into the pocket and zipped it shut.
In this way, I successfully navigated through Stockholm, where signs everywhere warned “Beware Of Pickpockets”; Lesvos, which in low season was sparsely populated, but I wasn’t letting my guard down; and Athens, where my guidebook, a friend who had lived there, and a kind shopkeeper cautioned that the city was teeming with pickpockets waiting to pounce on me.
I had kept my wits about me. What had gone wrong?
I retraced my recent steps in my mind: I had stood in a long line, ready to leave Athens and board my flight to Copenhagen. I handed my passport to the ticket agent, then crowded behind passengers onto the shuttle that would take us to our plane. Is that when it happened–when I was smooshed in close, inhaling everyone’s sweat? Or was it when we swarmed up the makeshift staircase to the plane–had someone reached over, snatching my passport? Perhaps it was when I was seated, fast asleep. Or maybe on the Metro, zooming toward Copenhagen’s downtown. Could it have occurred on the bus, going to my hotel? I had sat near the front, opposite a man with brownish hair and beard, headphones, tattooed arms. As far as I knew, he had kept his hands to himself. What if he took my passport in the blink of an eye? But I was wearing my fleece vest; although the front hung open, the left side covered my shirt’s left pocket. Extra protection.
Speaking of my vest, I now noticed that its chest pocket, which had remained open during my travels, was closed. Had I accidentally put my passport inside, in my haste to board the shuttle? I did have a tendency to misplace things.
I unzipped the pocket. I reached inside. Relief rippled through me.
Nothing like thinking I’ve been pickpocketed, only to discover I was, in fact, the pickpocket.