I was on my way to Vancouver early in the morning of May 13. My plane was due to leave at 8:30 am and due to my practice of being at the airport two hours before the flight, my host, Milton, husband of long time friend Ophel, had to wake up around 4 so that he could take me to the San Francisco airport. Now that is a long drive from San Jose where we were.
It was a good thing that I was there at an early time as the queue to the check in counter, which was practically without any staff except for three people, was quite long already. It turns out that the United Airlines, which I was riding, relies heavily on the electronic check in system and the guys working there are there only to assist passengers. So, I waited a long time and when it was my turn (actually my first to do that) to check in, I had no problems inputting data. However, scanning my passport was not an easy task. It would not fit the scanner because the jacket was larger than the allowed page. A middle aged African American woman who worked there came to help me and realized too that the passport won't fit. She thought of getting the passport out of the jacket but in doing so, the entire booklet separated from the jacket! The whole thing tore apart from the cover. Of course I was dismayed but since that was the first time it happened and it was not me who did it, I never thought of the repercussions of the same. By this time, the woman was able to scan my passport and advised me to check in my luggage for which I have to pay $25. I went to the only counter that was collecting the luggages and showed her my passport.
Immediately, she noticed that the passport was torn and said, "Hey, you cannot travel with a damaged passport!" Now the repercussion has set in. It was then that I began to be concerned. "What can I do? It fell apart when the lady handled it." And the woman, in fairness to her, acknowledged the mishap. But the lady would have none of it and tried to declare something like it was due to the fact that the passport was weak.
"What can I do?" I asked again. She thought for a bit and then told me to glue it and maybe that would work. Where in heaven's name does one find a glue at an airport at a little way past 6 am? Frantically, I went to a coffee shop and asked if they happen to have glue. None! Who would have a need for glue at a coffee shop, anyway? I walked and saw two Filipinas who I presume were working at the airport, talking with each other while going out of the toilet. I approached them and asked if they have what I need. None!
Then I noticed a young African American man, probably around 20 years old, working at a store which was already opened. I asked him if he could help me and after explaining the situation to him, he promised to look for some glue after he has finished with his chore at the time. So, I waited and while waiting tried to look at the items for sale. And guess what I found. A super glue! My eyes widened as hope sprang from the heavens. "Here, I found some glue! How much is it? I'll pay for it." I took it from where it was displayed and showed it to him. Then I pleaded if he could be the one to glue it as I am so much tensed I might ruin it. He would have none of it perhaps thinking I will have to blame him if something went awry again.
I put some glue on the cover and tried to put them together but they won't attach. "Hey, it says here super glue,m why wouldn't they join?" I asked the man. "Well, maybe it's no good for paper," he answered. Now I am beginning to panic. Tried it several times more and it wouldn't stick. Finally, I tried to put a larger quantity, put them together and held them for quite some time. It worked.
I went back to the check in counter and showed her my passport and she checked in my luggage. So far so good. I lined up for the immigration officer, divested of all the contents of my pants and shoes and went through the x-ray machine. "You still have your belts on!" cried the lady guard. "Oh, I'm sorry ma'am," and took off my belt.
My passport was looked at by airport personnel three or four times and there was no problem. I also got through the immigration in Vancouver in a breeze. Now the tables are turning to my favor at last, I thought.
The following day, I went to the Philippine consulate to inquire about my passport. Don Wallis, husband of Trudy, took me to West Pender St. where the consulate is located. There I was told that I will have to have my passport replaced but I have to wait several days. Or, they could give me some sort of document for passage but it will only be if I will leave from Vancouver to the Philippines. I still have a lot of things to do in Kaslo and besides, I already have a ticket flying back to the Philippines through LA. "Couldn't the consul just give me a document verifying that this passport is authentic?" I asked. "It will also be a matter of days before that can be done," he said.
So, here I am now in Kaslo, after a long journey to Nelson via a Greyhound bus, not knowing what would happen to me when I enter Spokane, Washington to fly back to LA on the 23rd. Hmmm, if they don't want to accept me, let them deport me instead. What can I do? It was an accident!