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by Tumbleweed Smith

It was a fiasco from the word go. Some years ago our oldest son Kevin went to France on a Rotary Youth Exchange trip. He had just graduated from high school and was scheduled to leave on Memorial Day.

At about 2 PM on the Friday before Memorial Day, we couldn’t find Kevin’s passport. We turned the house upside down looking for it. No passport. At 4 PM I called the district clerk’s office and got no help. I called the passport office in Houston and was told nothing could be done until the following Tuesday after the holiday. I called our congressman’s office and was told the same thing. That person suggested I delay the trip until Wednesday of next week. We couldn’t do that because we bought a non-cancelable plane ticket. I was on the phone until 10 PM Friday calling attorney friends, politicians, Rotarians, anyone who might be able to help. We went to bed that night totally frustrated.

Saturday morning we woke up with renewed vigor and a big dose of determination. We called a friend in Houston and found out the passport offices in Washington and New York were open today (Saturday). We couldn’t find a flight that would get us there before closing time. I called David Nuell, a friend of mine who was a newsman in Washington, D.C. David gave me the number of the guy who issues the passports. I called him and he agreed to meet Kevin at the passport office on Sunday morning. I called our travel agent and got Kevin a round trip ticket to Washington. The plane was to leave at 1:05 Saturday afternoon.

In the meantime, we discovered we couldn’t find Kevin’s birth certificate, which is essential to get a passport. The county clerk‘s office was closed, but an attorney friend convinced a clerk to go to the office and get Kevin’s birth certificate. By now it was about 11:30.

Our attorney friend flew Kevin to the Midland airport to make his 1:05 flight. We called David in Washington and he agreed to pick up Kevin at the airport, put him up for the night and take him to the passport office Sunday morning. David went to the Dulles airport. Kevin landed at Baltimore. While he was driving from Dulles to Baltimore, David got a traffic ticket. Kevin got his passport, came home Sunday and we took him to the airport Monday to catch his flight to France. We gave a sigh of relief.

Kevin had a ball in France and ended the trip with a visit to the British Isles. When his host mother took him to the airport in London, she took him to the wrong airport. Kevin told the information people he needed to get to the other airport quick. The people told him to take a helicopter. Kevin didn’t have that much money. He barely had enough money to take the bus. He ran through the airport and when he got to his plane, his seat had already been given to someone else.

But there was one shining moment to all of this. The stewardess told Kevin he would have to sit in first class all the way back to Dallas. She offered him a glass of champagne. Kevin got home with fifty cents.

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