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Where Not to Hide Your Passport

Updated on August 9, 2011
This was the picture on the wall.
This was the picture on the wall.
No problem...we'll just take out these bolts.
No problem...we'll just take out these bolts.
Can we leave it down?
Can we leave it down?

Our summer in Paris is filling us everyday with wonderful and interesting experiences. We are finding out more about ourselves and have spent everyday together without the interruption of work or school. This could be a very hard adjustment for some couples but it seems like whatever Brian and I do together...we end up laughing...

It was the first time that I had ever traveled without having a place to lock up passports or valuables. We are renting and were not convinced at the beginning of our stay that there weren't other copies of keys to our studio apartment floating around somewhere in the city of Paris. So...we needed to put a little extra thought into where a thief would never look. I left this to Brian...he is a very smart guy.

To give you the full picture of this scenario, I must describe the apartment a bit. When they say studio...they really mean tiny. Everything must fit into 18 square meters. So of course the most space-saving piece of furniture was the Murphy bed. I had grown up hearing about them...possibly seeing them in old films of the Marx Brothers or the Three Stooges where inevitably someone or something would end up inside the Murphy bed when it was closed. I was extremely surprised and happy to not only discover that ours was comfortable but that there was no way on god's earth that this huge piece of furniture could go up into the wall with us in it. It was also very nicely designed and when it was open there were reading lights above the head of the bed and some framed black and white photos of Paris on the wall in a gap in the back panels. Every morning after breakfast we would make the bed and I would try to help Brian lift this monster to its home in the wall. Once it was up and locked in place it seemed almost immovable. It looked like a wardrobe and now we could at least move around a bit. So Brian had an idea. Why not place the passports behind the photos? Good idea...I agreed. A thief would never think about pulling down a Murphy bed and if they did...they wouldn't look behind the photos right?

Days passed and then weeks but the day came when Brian needed his passport out. So up on the bed he went, moved the picture just a bit and that is when I heard him say..."Uh...oh...that can't be good." It turns out...the passports slipped out from behind the picture and fell behind the panel of the bed that served as a headboard. We had nothing to use that was long enough to slide behind the panel to move the passports out. Now what? I love Brian...no matter what..he never panics, he looks at a situation and says..."No big deal....I'll just run down to the store and get an adjustable wrench, loosen these two screws which hold the bed onto this bracket and then we can move the bed enough to get the passports out." And so, on the only really hot, humid day we've had, he ran down to the hardware store for a wrench. Within minutes he was back, sweaty but determined, and began loosening the bolt on one side as I held on to the other. No problem right? Wrong. As he loosened the second bolt, we realized, especially me, that the frame of the bed was heavier than we could have ever imagined. It started to fall...I yelled.."I can't hold on to this...it is going to fall!" This bed wasn't going to swallow us up...it was going to fall on us. All I could think of was the scene from The Wizard of Oz when the house fell on the Wicked Witch of the West. They would find us at the end of the month...our feet sticking out from under the bed. This was turning into an episode of 'Seinfeld' or 'Friends' or 'I Love Lucy', except that I wasn't laughing. Brian remained calm...advised me what to do, where to hold on and I somehow managed to push the passports out from behind the panel but still we needed to bolt the bed back together again. While Brian held on, it was my job to fit the nut back on the bolt but they wouldn't line up...rrrr!!! Back and forth we went...push...shove...twist...turn...try it now..OK?...no!..now?...no...how about now?...push it harder!...The simple task turned into a gargantuan, sweaty struggle of man (and woman) against Murphy bed, invoking the names of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Finally they lined up and they were tightened and we were safe (Thank you God!). That's when I started to laugh. So for all you travelers or future travelers...don't put your passports anywhere near a Murphy bed and also keep a cell phone on you at all times in case you have to call someone in just this type of situation. We have moved to our second apartment...it has a bedroom and thank God...a bed that remains on the floor.


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      margaret daye 6 years ago

      Oh Mel...only you guys could make fun of a difficult situation...probably not fun at the time...I lived next door to a woman with a murphy bed...I thought it was cool how a bed would come out of the closet..never thought it could be a nuisance with passports and all...so is your new apartment a little more roomier...? Hope you are having a wonderful time...wish I could go to Paris but when you are not in love with someone, I guess it just wouldn't be the same.