Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Reason to Love the iPhone

Today I'm spending a lovely day off in the business library, studying for my Finance midterm tomorrow. After going through a ton of review questions in the textbook, I decided it was time to tackle the practice midterm. Our professor was very clear that we should time ourselves when we try it, to make sure we would finish the exam on schedule. He has written the exam perfectly so that it should take us 3 hours to write at five minutes per question. He was very clear that if the practice midterm takes us more than five minutes per question, we are not sufficiently prepared. I was sitting here thinking what would be the best way to time myself as I write the exam and then thought, "I could put on a stopwatch on my iPhone." When I turned it on, I realized that I could do one better. I could put it on stopwatch and hit the "Lap" button every time I finished a question. That way, it would seem like a race. And I would have the added bonus of being able to calculate my average time per question. I'm doing the exam in ten-question intervals and so far, have scored 10/10 with an average response time of 3:23.47. So far, so good.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Adventures in Boston... Part II

I realized that I should probably tell you all the rest of my adventure as a victim of Bostonian crime, so that you can all learn from my mistakes and NEVER keep your passport and wallet:

a. in the same place
b. in the coatroom of a Stake Centre

and also, if this does ever happen to you, then you can learn from my exciting experience the process of getting your new travel documents. Trust me, it's not all fun and games.

We left off in the previous post with me spending a lovely evening and night with a sweet older couple in suburban Cambridge. Well, I woke up on Monday morning, ate some cornflakes, and headed off for the Cambridge police station to get my police report. I was feeling chipper and looking forward to getting home later that evening. My plane ticket had been changed, Benjamin had been called to update my pick-up time from the airport, and all was well. I approached the friendly-looking officer at the reception desk and asked what I needed to do to file the complaint and get my report as soon as possible.

"When do you need it by?" he asked.

"In time to get to the consulate, get emergency travel documents, and get to the airport by 3:30." I replied.

The look on his face sent my heart plummeting down to about my knees.

"We usually can't get a report approved and ready for release until the day after." he said. "Why didn't you do it yesterday?"

Because Officer Callinan told me I could do it today! I wanted to yell. Instead, I got a terrified look on my face, told him that I had no money, no place to stay, and needed this report as soon as possible. I tried to stop from crying and looking like some crazy hysterical girl at the police station, but I couldn't help it. In the end, I think the tears were what really saved the day.

"I'll see what I can do." he mumbled.

Ninety minutes later, I was out the door and on my way to the consulate.

Unfortunately, the consulate didn't have good news for me, either. Apparently, the emergency travel documents that I had been told about no longer exist. The only way to fly from Canada to the US when one's passport has been stolen is with a fancy white temporary passport, which takes anywhere from 24 hours to three days to process. So now I really was stuck in Boston for another night, and tears weren't going to get me anywhere.

The people at the consulate were super helpful, they contacted my family and told them how they'd have to take my birth certificate over to the Calgary passport office and how they could wire me some money to tide me over. They lent me money for lunch and found me a charger for my cell phone. I was especially grateful for the latter when I got a phone call around 2:30 pm (while still waiting in the consulate lobby).

It was a Bishop from the Stake Centre from the previous day. His wife had helped me look for my back pack and had written down my number in case anything turned up. He told me that the missionaries had been at the building that morning when a woman showed up with my backpack, claiming that she had found it on a nearby dumpster. It was still missing my wallet, my money, my travel snacks, and the few souvenirs that I had stuck in there, but my journal was back, safe and sound. I couldn't believe it. That kind Bishop even offered to drive the bag into Boston from his home in Cambridge during the rush hour so that I could have it back as soon as possible. There were so many kind people that helped me out during this whole process.

Another one was the Generous Restauranteur. I met him in the consulate lobby, where he was also waiting for an emergency passport. He had overheard my discussions with the consulate staff about how I had no money and was without any form of ID. we chatted a little while we waited, and just before he left, he turned to me and asked,

"Are you ok for money and everything? Do you need any more help?" I assured him that I was ok, that my parents had been able to send me sufficient funds. He then persisted, "I still want to help if I can. I own a restaurant here in Boston, so I'm going to call my secretary and have her call the restaurant and leave a giftcard at the front desk for you. You can eat there as long as you're stuck in Boston." I thanked him profusely and then spent the next day - until I was eventually able to leave - eating the tastiest food at the Elephant and Castle.

Since I had been told that my passport would take anywhere from 24 hours to three days, I was prepared to wait a while. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the consulate the next day and was handed a shiny new white passport, ready for travel. I called Delta, got my flight rebooked for later that afternoon (for free!) and had enough time to stop at the Elephant and Castle for lunch before heading home, after a very exciting adventure.