(This is Part 2 to the story about my trip to Paris. Miss Part 1? Read it here.)
So there I was. The train is coming to a stop at the Geneva city center station and I begin to FREAK OUT.
Breathe, woman, breathe.
I’m checking every pocket where I’ve kept my passport this entire time. Camera bag. Front pocket of suitcase. I’ve checked them all at least four times in 30 seconds and I’m sweating and freaking out (have I mentioned I’m losing my damn mind, here, people?!) and I see someone on the platform who kinda sorta looks like he works for the station. I run to him.
“Someone stole my passport!”
“Someone stole my passport. I can’t find my passport!”
Tilting head, dumbfounded stare.
“Parrrrlayyyyy voooooooooo Onnnglay???”
Frgn feckin schloggin fargin. (that’s not a real language. at least i hope not. this is me trying not to swear but mumbling and fumbling with my words.)
Then a woman walks up and understands what I’m trying to say and they both start fumbling with keyrings and next thing I know, they are unlocking the trash bin that is right next to me. At this point, the train is stopped and people are rushing all around me, all getting ON the train.
“What are you doing? I didn’t throw it away. Someone STOLE MY PASSPORT!”
I’m really about to burst into tears or punch you in the face to get you to understand me at this point. I’m really that serious. Look at me. It’s not in the trash. It’s ON THE TRAIN. Someone took it. It’s on the train. I know it. AREYOULISTENINGTOME?!
The woman and man speak to each other and suddenly the man, the same one who didn’t speak any English a second ago, talks to me in somewhat broken English and says sometimes pickpockets grab the passport and throw it away after they nab it. They’re really only looking for cash, he explains.
First of all, ohmygodyouspeakenglishafterall and second, someone stole it and threw it away? GAWD I hate it here.
He then tells me I need to see a policeman. And he points down the platform ramp.
OMFG. Really? Now I want my mommy.
So I run. I run with everything I have (if only my high school track coach could see me now. and with suitcases in tow!) and burst back into the train station and start yelling for a policeman.
I see a door that says POLICE. I run to it. It’s dark. Door is locked. A few people wander into this part of the station and I look at them, frantic and all, and say “POLICE? POLICE!” and they all shrug their shoulders and shake their heads.
No. No. No.
I look up at the clock on the wall.
Train left two minutes ago.
I’m sure my passport is on its way to Paris without me.
Even now, four months later, I can feel my heart rate increasing as I type this.
It. Was. Horrible.
Defeated and near tears, I walk outside. I don’t know what to do. I’m dazed. I really am. It feels like I’m part of some terrible joke. Any moment someone will jump out and tell me it’s all going to be OK. Kasey, we’re just messing with ya. Here’s your passport, girl. Go to Paris. Go to the city of love. Alone. It’ll be wonderful. Romantique. Right? RIGHT?
Side note: Now, a few of you know why I didn’t even want to go to Paris in the first place. I really almost did back out. I almost canceled this part of the trip. I was going to just head home from Geneva and skip France altogether. Maybe it was a sign. I should’ve done what was in my gut. I should never have gone to Paris. This was wrong. And this was proof. Something was holding me back. And it felt horrifying.
I don’t have an international phone plan, so I was screwed. Any call or text I made while in Europe was shooting my bill sky high, but I had no choice. I texted home to let my kids and Michael know I was stuck and had no idea what to do. Then I texted Joedy, old boss, dear friend and world traveler. He said something along the lines of “Damn it to hell, I’m sorry.” Then I texted my boss to let her know I didn’t know when I’d get out of Switzerland.
I went back inside. I didn’t know where to go. This time, there were people in the police station.
Someone will help me now. Right?
Let me try this again.
Bonjour. Parlez-vous anglais?
Lots of hands in the air. Shaking of heads. What happened to “most people in Geneva speak English …” ???
I’m close to tears. I decide to throw out some words.
I pointed. I smiled. I thought of even trying my best curtsy. Seemed fancy. Maybe someone would pay attention to me then.
Christ, people. HELP ME.
I started to tear up now. And, don’t tell anyone, but I try to be a tough ass most the time but it doesn’t take much to make me lose it, really.
I start to say thanks, yeah, whatever, and turn to walk away when I hear a woman’s voice (it’s always the women).
“I speak a little English.”
I wanted to lick her face.
OK. Sorry. This is too long again. But I’m gonna get this damn story out. Stay tuned for the end. I hope. It really does get back to the language “barriers” we face when we can’t communicate well. And it does have a funny ending. I promise.