Chicago's "Cloud Gate" sculpture, otherwise known as "The Bean".

A Chicago Story

The Scintilla Project: Day 11

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Last updated on February 12th, 2024 at 12:03 am

1. Write about an experience you had that was so strange or incredible, it sounds like it could have been made up.

— The Scintilla Project’s Day 11 prompt

Those who’ve known me awhile often think I have a lucky horseshoe firmly within my rectum.

While I have no burning desire to prove nor disprove this theory (as invasive surgery doesn’t seem like the most attractive idea), my Green Bay/Chicago adventure in 2010 helps me see why people might think this way!

A Chicago Story

In May 2010, I visited our friend living in Green Bay, Wisconsin with some old high school buddies. From there, we’d drive to Chicago, eventually flying back to Toronto.

 All fine and dandy, right? A good four-day vacation with cool people doing cool things.

Yeah, you’d think so. This trip was further proof of one simple fact:

You can’t take Casey anywhere.

Over the course of those same four days, while I had a good time taking in the sights, the food and the music, if things hadn’t worked out the way they did, I’m not sure I could’ve even made it home! In those four days, I managed to lose my passport, my wallet and my camera… and somehow get them all back!

Round One: Passport Go Bye-Bye!

After getting to the airport a few hours ahead, paying for my checked luggage (I miss the good ol’ days when you could pack a bag and fly without having to pay more hidden fees after buying a ticket) and getting spot-checked in the customs line (maybe it was my cap to the side; maybe the size of my bags; maybe the shade of my skin—but all it took was answering “Where do you work?” with “for the Provincial Government in a financial and project management office…” to get my passport back), I dropped off my luggage on the conveyor belt and went to go to security…

…only to discover that my passport had vanished. Yes, you heard me, my passport had disappeared before I’d even boarded the plane! I had it at customs—where the hell could it have gone?!

In the next 5-10 minutes, I searched the area like a madman to see if he left it on the customs counter (nah, the guy there handed it right back to me); on the floor (freakin’ spotless); or anywhere else (negative), only to discover the much worse truth — I’d managed to throw it in with my checked baggage!

With two hours to go until the flight, my buddy and I ran like chickens with our heads cut off from one Delta desk to the next to see who could help us find a solution. Eventually, they managed to find it among all the luggage for our flight, and I could come and go from the nation as I pleased once more!

But that wasn’t the end of it…

Round Two: Giving the Wallet the Slip

The stay in Chicago went largely without incident, but getting out wasn’t so simple!

‘Twas a hot day in Chicago and the freeway was jammed. Our taxi inched along slowly as we all drifted into a hazy sleep….

…waking up sometime later at O’Hare International, we stumbled out of the taxis, bags in tow, ready to make our way home. Tired, sweaty, and ready to get home and take a shower, I slid my hands into my pockets as I impatiently waiting in the security line…

…only to find my wallet mysteriously absent.

Cue freak-out!

Did anyone have the number for the taxi service? Nope.

Did anyone bother to get a receipt? Nope.

And let’s not forget to mention that this is the same wallet I’d managed to lose 8 times before getting rid of it!

It was right then that I had a genius idea: cabs in Chicago had their phone numbers boldly printed on their sides; I could probably look out the window at the cabs going by and find the number for the company I needed! Awesome!

So I ran over, and luckily one of their cars was sitting right there, loading passengers for a trip downtown. And that’s when I saw the driver…

…the same driver who’d driven us to the airport.

I raced down an escalator (going up) to ask him whether he’d seen my wallet, and while he hadn’t, I was welcome to check the cab.

I looked all over where I’d sat, the back, the front, but if it’d been there, it sure wasn’t now! So I stepped back to get out of the cab, dejected — and there it was. Wedged between the seat and the side of the taxi was my wallet! It must have slipped out of my hoodie’s pocket while I was sleeping! Score!

But it wasn’t over yet

Round Three: The Camera’s Out of the Picture

Is it sad that through all the chaos, I didn’t notice that I was missing my camera until I tried to check my photos in the airport?

That’s a rhetorical question. Please don’t answer it.

Apparently, in the rush to get into the taxi and to the airport, I’d left my camera behind—on the concierge counter at the hotel where we’d been staying. Oy.

With a couple of phone calls from the airport and a short prayer, we managed to arrange to get the camera shipped back to my home, photos and all!

So, in the end, I lost my passport, wallet and camera, but keeping a (relatively) cool head and focusing on the solution and not the problem made it all work out. A new passport, an expensive camera and a change to a money clip later, and I feel like I learned a valuable lesson from this—but there’s a long life ahead of me, and you can’t watch all of your stuff all of the time…

The second logo for Casey Palmer, Canadian Dad


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