Passport hiccups and a forced “hero”

Losing a passport. Has it ever happened to you? I pray not. We all know that the process of replacing it is daunting. It would cost a lot of money and most especially—precious time and effort! It’s like a disaster. All your travel plans will crash down right before your eyes the second you found out it was gone.

I trudge through despite the odds. Those three long nights were heartbreaking. I had mustered all my courage to retrieve it. I must have it back! And THANK GOD, I DID.

Let me tell you the story. To begin with, it wasn’t an easy battle for it was a fight between a foreigner and a Viet Cong! And you know how Viet Congs are during the war, don’t you? They were fierce to say the least.

Now, 50 years after the war, Vietnamese have this idea that it’s OK to rip off foreigners. They are filthy rich, anyway. But it isn’t an ultimate truth, no. Not all locals are like that. Some Vietnamese are helpful and honest. Likewise, some foreigners are not rich (and not filthy too!). Some have only less than $50 bill in their old, black Marc Jacobs purse. And that some includes me.

It’s a puzzle why he isn’t giving back my purse. I have only less than $50 in it with a few membership cards, two ATM cards, grocery receipts, bank deposit slip, bus tickets and a passport.

My Filipino friend could only guess it’s a PASSPORTNAP. A random passenger rode his car, paid the cheap cab fare and left…without her purse! Great. The driver unzipped it and found nothing grand in it. He doesn’t know Marc Jacobs too, nor how to pronounce it. He gave a deep sigh. But then he saw a foreign passport. Ting! Ideas were coming. I guess my passport spells $$$.

So, I thought of rewarding some money.

Thanks to CCTV, we got the details of the cab. My landlady volunteered to phone the taxi company. Vinasun then provided us the mobile number and name of the driver.

Everything I needed. Awesome! At this point, I was hopeful. I can have my passport back in no time.

He was then informed by my landlady of the 1,000,000 dong reward in exchange of my passport. I was asking for the passport only not the whole ensemble.

The driver’s response was “No, I didnt see it. I went to the car park after driving her home and even the cleaner of the car didn’t see anything.”

Hopes down. Vinasun advised us to wait a little longer and they will do the talking. Hopes up.

I sleep. I woke up, pray. I eat, do the laundry, pray. I go to work, go home and pray again. I did all I have to do while waiting. I waited the whole Thursday. But Vinasun isn’t contacting us. Two nights have passed by already. I must do something.

Then, I remembered the saying…

“Sometimes people change not because they see the light but rather they feel the heat.”

I got on my feet and turned on the heat. I asked the help of my Vietnamese friend to do a little translation for me. I called the driver. We talked for five seconds then hung up. It was useless to talk over the phone; I have terrible Vietnamese accent and he couldn’t grasp English. Let the text messaging do the talking. Message sent!

The message: I will report you to the police if you don’t give back my passport.

After one minute and a half, my mobile beeped. It was a message from my landlady, the person I wasn’t expecting a message from.

The message: Hey, the driver has just called me, he said he found the one who keeps your purse, this is the cleaner.

Daebaek! merci! muchas gracias! arigato! salamat! I was in cloud number nine.

The following day, there were still a little hiccups. He was acting hesitant to give it back to me in the agreed time. He said he was busy. I heard a lot of excuses. I feel like I will lose the chance of him surrendering my passport if I let one of his excuses in.

So, I phoned Vinasun myself and asked for the manager. I told her everything. I even told her that I will report him to the police. We have evidence and that I have flight the next day.

A couple of minutes later my landlady told me that the driver is on his way to the cleaner’s house to pick up my purse. She then suggested to give the driver a transport fare for the cost of going to the cleaner’s house. I agreed. She also messaged me saying: “I just ask in case he asks for deliver fee,he said to me that he dont cost any.”

Sounds like a noble man?

He arrived at 9:55 a.m. He was wearing a red shirt when I saw him. He was sitting on his moped, smiling here and there while chatting with my landlady. My hero.

I went up to him and thank him. Then, I hold out my hand to give the reward. He smiled and waved his head no.

My landlady walked away to get a paper. I tried to give it to him again. In a snap, he hold out his hand with a big grin. Then my landlady came back and handed a “receipt” as requested by the driver. He got it and drove away on his moped.

My landlady said, “he was a good man.” I smiled and thought to myself, he was constrained to be.

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