When we go out of the country, I’m in charge of the passports. No one appointed me, I just assumed the job. Perhaps I should reconsider.

We were at our hotel in Vienna last fall, after breakfast, getting ready for the trip home – sorting through stuff, packing, checking the flight time. I had helped organize a two day conference on the subject of “Terrorism, Media and the Law,” and I was feeling pretty good about myself. Then I suddenly realized that my wallet was nowhere in sight. No problem, I thought, I had it earlier, it must be around somewhere, I’ll find it.

Minutes passed, I started feeling less good about myself, and I broke down and asked the pianist, “Have you seen my brown wallet?” “No,” she answered, followed by the classic question, “Where was it the last time you saw it?” If I knew the answer to that question, I thought, I wouldn’t have asked in the first place. No time to pick a fight, however. “I had it at breakfast,” I said. “It must be in the room.” But where?

They say you should keep your passports separate from your money. Good advice, remind me to take it next time. So, passports, credit cards, money – all in one place, and all gone missing.

The breakfast room? The only place we’d been that morning. Slow elevator, so down five flights, two stairs at a time. It’s not there. Then to the front desk. It’s not there either. Man at desk – very nice man – comes up to the room, and we launch a massive search. “You had it this morning?” he asks. “Yes.” “In your pocket?” “Yes.” Did you brush up against anyone?” “No.” “And you’re sure you had it this morning?” “Positive.” “It cannot fly,” he said. I agreed.

Now I’m living every traveler’s nightmare, and I’m worried. We’re supposed to leave this afternoon, and I can’t think of where else to look. Beads of sweat cover my forehead. Meanwhile, the nice man from the front desk and the pianist systematically turn the room upside down while I – the original Mr. Cool – sit there in a near-catatonic state. One more trip to the breakfast room; it’s still not there.

Back to the room, now looking where we’ve already looked. Maybe it did fly away, which it looked like I wouldn’t be doing anytime soon.

Then I heard my new three most favorite words: “Here it is,” she cried out in a voice equal parts triumph and relief. It was, as you might have guessed, exactly where I left it … for safekeeping.