Almost missed my return flight after misplacing my passport at the last minute! (Credit: Google)

Almost missed my return flight after misplacing my passport at the last minute! (Credit: Google)

Leah Cho, Contributor

Almost missed my return flight after misplacing my passport at the last minute! (Credit: Google)

I waved goodbye to my friend at Detroit Metropolitan Airport as I checked my luggage-in. It was the 27th of May- the day I would finally return to Korea after an exhausting year of boarding school in Michigan, United States. I had just finished my junior year of high school, and I could attest that it was more challenging than any other year of my life. I had taken a heavy load of AP classes, was sleep-deprived, and was ready to crash on my 14-hour flight back home.

I checked my baggage in, went through security, showed my passport to three different personnel. I was desperate to find my gate, sit down, and take a nap out of complete exhaustion but made a quick stop at the nearest restroom. Afterward, it took around twenty minutes to look up at various signs to eventually find my gate number, A-39. Most of the seats were full of people on their laptops, sipping their coffee, and chatting with the person beside them.

I arrived two hours prior to the plane’s departure and figured I should take a nap to kill time before boarding. I found a comfy, vacant seat and closed my eyes for what seemed like around ten minutes. Before I knew it, I opened my eyes to check my phone to see that an hour had passed. A voice announced through the speakers that it was time for first and business class members to board first. A group of people began to walk briskly towards the gate to of course have the luxury of boarding first. I grabbed my ticket out of my pocket to double-check my seat number and was comforted to know that I would be boarding last, which would give me twenty minutes or so to lean against my chair and simply relax. The speaker had then finally announced that all economy class members would have to board. My brain was telling me that it was time to get in line, but my muscles would simply not budge. My entire body felt like it was glued to my chair. I figured I would just be the last person to board. I began to scroll through Facebook on my phone.

Minutes later, it was announced that it was the last chance for passengers to board. I looked up to realize there were only five people left in line and that I was the only person who did not stand up. I jolted out of my seat, grabbed my luggage, and got in line.

I reached in my pocket to get my passport but instead found old gum wrappers and my plane ticket.

I quickly knelt down to open my suitcase, only to find my books and no passport. I began to pant heavily and felt the heat build-up in my forehead. I scanned through everything: my backpack, suitcase, jean pockets. I looked in front of me to see that there were only three people in line. I began to freak out as tears began to fill my eyes. I knew my parents would not forgive me. I had to find my passport, quickly. I began to backtrack in my head to realize my passport had to be in the airport somewhere, as I would not have been able to enter if I hadn’t shown my passport to the terminal agents. Suddenly, it clicked. The restroom!

I didn’t hesitate or think twice. Before I knew it, I was sprinting towards the restroom, and people walking across the airport were giving me stares, but I didn’t care. I needed to find my passport!

Once I arrived at the restroom, I checked the stall I had gone into but still no passport. I ended up checking every single stall, even the trash cans, but still, no passport. Tears began streaming down my cheek. I left the bathroom to sprint back to my gate only to hear the speakers in the airport calling out my name.

“Leah Cho, you must board at gate A-39, immediately.” I began to panic. My heart was racing and my forehead felt like it was on fire. I arrived back at my gate and quickly explained that I had lost my passport. The ground attendants frowned because after all, there was nothing they could do about a lost passport and there were only three minutes until the gate would close completely. Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I saw a figure rushing towards me, flailing her arm with something black in her hand.”

“Is this Leah Cho?” She yelled. “Yes!” I answered, hoping that what I was hearing was real. I later found out that she was a janitor and found my passport while cleaning.

“I found your passport in the bathroom. Here you go!”

Immediately, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I thanked her, half crying and half overwhelmed with joy. On the other hand, the flight attendant at the gate demanded that I hand over my passport immediately. I sprinted into the plane and behind me, the flight attendant followed. I entered the plane just in time to hear the plane door shut behind me.