I couldn’t decide whether I should cry, freak out, remain calm, or just laugh. Not a penny on us to pay for this cab fare, caught in traffic and wondering if my wife and daughter have decided to wait or head to the cruise ship with our passport, boat pass, and everything else. Ahhhhh!
This is part III of this story. For the full story first Read Lost in Atlantis and Lost, separated and panicked in Atlantis if you have not done so prior to this.
Incredibly the two couples sitting with us in the back seemed totally unfazed by our story of being lost, separated, and having no money to pay for this $4 x 2 cab fare. If you wanted a hint that we’re not giving money to beggars, the hints were given. I had pictures of Zack and I being handcuffed in Nassau for skipping and running from the cab because we couldn’t pay our fare. Perhaps they’ll let us off in mercy free, but since this cabbie was trying to squeeze every possible body into the van, it seemed unlikely he would give up these eight U.S. dollars.
Meanwhile the trip was taking a merciless amount of time. We finally crossed the bridge after paying the $1.00 toll for a van full of 11 people, sheesh, seriously they stop every vehicle coming and going for $1.00? Now we were in the city limits and traffic was at a halt. I thought, now would be a good time to hop out of the van and run, we’d probably reach the port before this van anyway. But since we already had no idea where we were going in the Atlantis tunnels, I wisely kept the crazy man thoughts inside the brain before doing such a foolhardy thing.
Finally we appeared to reach our destiny. I could see the yellow building just ahead of through the front of the cab window and tried to craft a story to figure a way to get one of these couples to have a kind heart, or maybe I could talk my way out of the cabbie yelling for a local police to haul us away, they seemed to be everywhere!
We slowly piled out of the van and the couples we were with made a bee line to pay the cabbie. I needed a plan C. Digging in her purse for cash was a woman who was with several other single friends. I sheepishly walked over to her and said, I know this is going to sound weird but my son and I got separated from my wife and daughter, could I possibly permanently borrow cab fare from you. She said Oh my God, you poor things, of course you can. I’m not one of those huggie type people but I was so elated by her kindness I reached out and gave her a huge hug and said, God Bless you so much! I also don’t say things like that. She replied, wow, if I knew giving somebody ten bucks would get that much thanks I’d do that more often. I replied you have no idea how much this means, you will be rewarded! We cut in front of the couples paying the cab driver, slapped the $10 in his hand and took off running to the gate. Our new friend yelled to us as we were on our way, Good luckkkkkkkkkkkk!
We couldn’t have had much more than 15 minutes left to catch the boat. If you want to call it luck, call it luck, but what happened next somehow all seemed to happen in nanoseconds.
Something told me, just go around the lines and to the right. Really, I kid you not. We went right around the lines of people all having their ID’s checked and we ended up at a different checkpoint. There were two armed guards checking passports but only two people in line. Zack and I walked up to the man and I told him we were going to the cruise but lost our passports. He opened the window next to him and yelled something in the window in bahamian. (I guess that was the language, who knows).
A beautiful young lady in fatigues poked her head out of the window and said, “Name”, with a smile. She goes, you look like you’ve had a rough day. I quickly explained what happened and she said no problem relax, it happens all the time. She asked a number of questions all of which I answered seriously and precisely (totally out of character for me but since I remember getting chewed out profusely by a customs guy in Quebec years ago, I learned this is not the place for joking). She asked if we had called my wife, to which I said , we have nothing, they have our phones, money, o.k.’s everything. What’s her number – she dialed, ring ring ring ring, no answer. ‘She must have her phone turned off’, she said.
‘Go on in, and good luck’, she said. I wanted to give her a huge hug as well, but decided not to press our luck. Zack and I headed through the gate in disbelief we were on our way in. I instructed Zack to stay right there and wait and watch for ‘I hope my babies are ok, I miss them so much, I promise I’ll never say a bad thing about them ever again’ beloved wife and daughter.
I sprinted to the boat check in line as they were nowhere in sight. Surely if they made it to this point they would have waited outside the boat for our appearance. It surprisingly only had about 20 people in line so I waited. At the checkpoint I explained what happened and asked if my wife and daughter had checked in. After a lot of questions and picture look ups, we found they had not. So I worked my way back through the very skinny bridge-way off the boat. People were looking at me like I had lost my mind, although wanting to explain why I was stepping on their toes and bumping my way off I instead avoided eye contact and pushed my way off.
I ran back to where Zack was, he was talking to the security guard when I arrived. They were telling him he was not allowed to stand there waiting. I was confused as was he when our friendly lady seemed to know what was happening. She shouted out the window, your wife and daughtta will not be coming out this gate, they will be over at the yellow building around the corner. Just then another security guard came out arms a waving, ‘you are in a restricted zone, get out of here’. I looked around and noticed he was pointing at a teeny little sign that said ‘RESTRICTED ZONE’. Stupidly I had Zack standing and waiting where they never would have appeared, unless, the same voice that told me to go around the long line said the same thing to them.
We apologized to the guard and headed over to the yellow building where we were back to praying that they would appear. I looked down at the boat worrying that the boat would soon be taking off, it was as one of the entry ramps was being lifted and getting shut down.
We made our way to the yellow building and for some reason I was calm as can be. I’ve been in this place of anxiety before many a time. I have run the same type of films through my head of uncertainty, doubt, worry, extreme endings flashing through like a black and white flickering reel flick from the 20’s, only to always end with things working out. I wish there was a way to make the mind not have to create all the crazy thoughts running through it, separating the faith that all will be well from all will end horribly.
I whisked through the faces in the line inside the yellow building, and there like it was 30 years ago in Bowling Green, Ohio walking down the aisle was my bride all dressed in white with a look of utter joy on her face. Next to her as if she was still the 5 year old apple of my eye (only 23 years added to it) was my daughter. Well they certainly did not look that way as they too had been through the same hell of worrying about our being separated what seemed like an eternity, but to me that is how they looked. Somehow they made it through the security line in seconds.
Zack and I ran to them and grabbed them both and we all hugged and kissed and we all laughed and lied, ‘we’ll never talk about what the heck just happened, let’s get on the boat before it leaves us’.
I took off ahead of my slow walking mates and got to the entrance that had been closed. As if reading my mind, the guy locking down the door said, you’ll have to go to the back entrance, he jokingly said, you think you might of cut it a little closer mate? I waved to him and continued my sprint to the end of the boat.
I ran up the ramp as there were no others in line and they asked for my boarding pass. I pointed a couple hundred yards down the sidewalk along the cruise ship and said they have the passes. The not so friendly steward said, well tell them to hurry up, we were supposed to leave 5 minutes ago. All I could respond with was a smile and a ‘you have no idea how close we came to being left behind, thanks for waiting, and you know what, thank God as well’.
(If this is your first time visiting Average Joe’s Portico, you have to read the Do you Dare tab to understand the shift, or just read on)
Jason Clark in his book ‘Untamed‘ ‘A fools guide to surrendered Faith’ said, “Obedience is what lands us in the best stories, the ones where we get to experience overwhelming circumstances, and then we get to discover God’s wonderful faithfulness”. (pg 85).
Going on a cruise vacation with your family is not like a soldier fighting in Afghanistan or a missionary off in the jungles of Africa. In fact some people will probably judge us for being extravagant. Frankly though, I don’t like family vacations and normally when we take them, I use my hard-earned travel points to pay for them. Cruises do not fall under any of those programs, so for me, this was a sacrifice.
My wife has tried getting me on a cruise for years, I always said no because the last 6 boat rides on the ocean I have taken have resulted in gut wrenching gallons of vomit going over the side of the boat. Marriage requires often doing what you don’t really want to do at times, and do it willingly. This trip actually was out of obedience to God, our family needed it. We needed some growth time. My daughter is long gone from our home and we have not had a time like this together in many years. And vacations have not always turned out to be a great time, in fact we’ve had some of our worst family arguments on vacations.
This little story to some will seem trivial. But, in God’s school, it was anything but trivial. It is like David chasing off a bear while tending sheep before he tackled the humongous feat of killing Goliath with a slingshot. All of us Average Joe’s go through various trying times, each to test and strengthen our faith. If we cannot trust God and believe Him to get us through the small catastrophe’s how will we ever believe and trust Him when the real big ones come. Ok, to me, and all of us, this was a huge one. God pulled us through and I cannot thank Him enough.
Don’t believe in God and His Grace, I sure do, in every way. I write this story and tell it to His Glory. Thank you God, again, I don’t deserve it, but for some reason You keep doing things to prove your love even though You don’t have to, Thanks! Average Joe
Not that things don’t turn out great every time, like how this one ended positively. I listened to a great video the other day that talks about Why does God ‘let’ bad things happen. If you have that question, watch this video, it is thought-provoking. Or, if you’d love to discuss this story and your struggles feel free to email me at JoesPortico@gmail.com or share your thoughts with other readers, comments can be made anonymously.