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Patricia’s Passport by Olga Maughan

Article by Olga Maughan ©.
Posted in the Magazine (Tell Your Own Story: , ).
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The early morning sun was crisp. I couldn’t remember the last time we were up so early, six thirty on a July morning, waiting in Dublin city for the coach to arrive to take us all to the port to catch the Ferry to Holyhead. A first for both my husband and I, we had never gone on a coach trip before. It took us a while to think about whether we were doing the right thing.

I had asked friends if they had ever gone on such a trip? One in particular sang its praises: “Great holiday” she said, “especially if you’re on your own like I was, you get to meet people from all over the country and get to know them very well, and they all seem like old friends when the week is over.”

Well, it didn’t take long to convince me, my husband took a little bit longer to decide if he wanted to go on a holiday that meant the he had to be in such close proximity to other people for a whole week. “Its alright for you” he said, “you’re a more sociable type, you don’t mind talking to people, you could go on your own and it wouldn’t bother you.” He was right of course; I love listening to people and talking. But we hadn’t had a holiday for five years now, and needed one badly.

No Mediterranean holiday for us, not this time. It was 2017, we were both on pensions and we just couldn’t afford it anymore. The coach trip was so much cheaper, and we were getting away, sure wasn’t that the whole point? I didn’t really mind where, as long as I was going somewhere and I loved somewhere new, and something totally different. We were delighted when the coach turned the corner and we were very soon all on board. Having been allocated our seats, our driver introduced himself.

Kevin is my name and I’m from Kerry, I have been a driver all my life and love everything about it. You’re very welcome on board McCabe’s Coaches, and I hope you enjoy your trip.” He was also looking forward to the Yorkshire trip as this destination was a first for him.

Everyone settled, he then asked if we all had our passports? A resounding “Yes” came from all on board. And then a little quiet voice from behind me said, “I don’t have a passport, I didn’t think I needed one.” I could see my husband out of the corner of my eye putting his head into his hands. The Tour Rep from the company we had booked the trip with, who was at that moment about to disembark to let us away, stopped in her tracks, asking the elderly lady, “why”? Very impatiently I thought. “You are going to a different country, of course you need your passport.” “No one told me” she said.

Kevin, who was a little more relaxed and patient, asked if she might have something else with her photo on, such as bus pass. “That would suffice, that’s all you need”. Even though I did not turn around to see her, I knew from the sound of her voice she was starting to panic. “What can I do now?” she asked, hoping someone would come up with a quick solution. “I don’t like to bring such things with me, I’m always afraid I’ll lose them.”

Her travelling companion told her it was “nonsense, everyone carries identification with them.” Kevin suggested she take her suitcase off the bus and take a taxi home to get the proper documents, then the same taxi would bring her to the port and we would meet her there. She worried and stressed as she got her belongings, as to whether she would get back on time. Another one of our travelling companions called out to her as she left he coach: “Remember to tell the taxi to wait while you go in and pick up what you need.” The Tour Representative had a taxi called and before we took to the road it had taken poor Patricia off home. I watched the car as it left and feared we would never see Patricia again. Kevin, our lovely driver, asked Patricia’s companion if she was alright about travelling alone if Patricia did not make it back on time. “Of course” she said in a very abrupt voice, “I usually travel alone, and by the looks of things I will be doing so again, won’t make any difference to me.”

The tone of her voice said she was annoyed he even had to ask. With a tut tut, she settled back into her seat. I believe her annoyance was more directed towards Patricia than to Kevin or anyone on board. I had a vision of the lovely old lady unpacking her bag at home, having not being able to either find identification, or not getting back on time. It saddened me to think she might spend the week home alone after probably organizing her week away for months on end, and looking forward to it with great excitement.

Traffic had been heavy for so early in the morning and I feared we might just miss the Ferry ourselves, never mind poor Patricia. As we approached the port a cry of delight came form Kevin.

“Well I don’t believe it, would ye look at Patricia, she got here before we did.”

I could see the smile on her face, even from that distance, she was waving furiously at us. She happily got on board to a wonderful round of applause. As she sat down her friend asked what she had brought with her? “Everything” she replied. “Passport, bus pass, and anything else I could find with my photo on it.”

Kevin drove the coach onto the Ferry and shortly after we sailed away, and yes, you guessed it, not once were we asked for passports or any other kind of identification, either before we left or when we arrived at Holyhead. We laughed about this.

“After all the trouble you went to, Patricia. Still, you know for the next time,” Kevin said.

Patricia’s travelling companion piped up: “Just as well we weren’t stopped, she shouted out, Patricia’s passport is three years out of date.”

We laughed, not knowing whether to believe her or not. It was the topic of conversation as we drove through the beautiful countryside of Wales and then onto Yorkshire. I was enjoying myself so much already, and we had not yet reached our destination. It was true, Patricia’s passport, we discovered, was definitely out of date. Kevin said it did not matter one bit, she would get in on her bus pass. “And anyhow, who could honestly turn back a lovely lady like yourself, Patricia? I will vouch for you, don’t you worry about a thing.”

I looked at my husband. He sat with a grumpy face on him and shook his head. I hope he never gets as forgetful or as confused as poor Patricia. I will remind him of this day if he does. I laughed at him, I was so happy, I allowed my friends talk us into taking this trip; if this was how it started, how much more excitement would we have to look forward to. I was so glad Patricia made it back to join us, she entertained me no end as we drove through the lovely Yorkshire countryside, villages and towns. I listened to her talk to her friend about all sorts and tell stories of her life. I would have lots to tell my friends when I returned. I put my head back as Kevin drove the coach and rested myself for what would prove to be the best holiday ever, with the loveliest, talkative and friendliest people I had ever met.

(c) Olga Maughan

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I was born in London and raised In Dublin and spent a lot of time in Kildare and Carlow when I was growing up. I worked for 3Com Ireland for as many years as they were in Dublin and loved every minute of it. With two members of the staff there, I walked across the Sahara Desert for charity, for seven long hot days, great experience. My husband and I moved to Cavan in 2004 where I worked for an Educational and Rehabilitation Centre, retiring last year at the age of 66, but I still volunteer with them in my spare time. Since I retired I have a lot more time to sit at my laptop to write and have had short stories published in Woman's Way Magazine. My interests are reading, writing and swimming, although I don't swim as much as I should.
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