“I think it’s an immigrant thing.” That’s what anyone who answers “Yes.” will probably tell you. I know I certainly would. The question: Do you hide your passport at home? Damn skippy! Nobody’s ever asked me, and I always assumed that I was the only one who did. But I came across someone today who admitted that he hides it in XX place, but might have to change that now that he’s told me the place. And I felt an instant affinity! Hey, another one like me. Which led to me asking a whole bunch of people the same question, and it pretty much comes down the middle between those who do and those who don’t. The most distinguishing difference: those who hide theirs, or keep it in a “safe place” are new or new-ish immigrants, whereas the native born not so much.
It’s never occurred to me to do anything but hide my passport. Another person (one who doesn’t) said to me that passports fetch a high price on the black market so it’s a good idea to keep it out of sight. But that’s not my thinking at all. I couldn’t care less about its black market value. What I’m worried about is it’s black person value! About exactly how many hoops I will have to jump through to get it replaced, whether those hoops will multiply exponentially because I’m not native-born. It’s the same reason I always register with Dep’t of Foreign Affairs when I travel abroad (not counting U.S.). If it comes to a situation where a border guard is like “hm this doesn’t look like you at all, please go to the interrogation dungeon” or a situation where I need to be bailed out or medivaced or pulled out of an overnight coup somewhere, I want there to be evidence that I entered whatever country it is as a Card-Carrying Citizen. If they start to ‘hmm’ and ‘haaaww’ I can say Ha! Check your records! Not that there’s any guarantee of that, of course. (Recent back-and-forth with my recently ex-cellphone provider has shown me that “records” have a mysterious and convenient way of disappearing, when the unnamed company ROGERS wishes them to.)
Another perspective I heard on the topic was that immigrants value their passports and so are more likely to hide them (or lock them up in a bank vault like yours truly) because, just like with anything you’ve had to work hard to get (or pay hard, as the case may be), you value it more. True. That’s the universal way of looking at it I suppose, minus the whole immigrant-angst, minus the I may be a citizen but if I really piss them off they’ll deport me in a minute aspect.
Maybe one day I’ll get so comfortable that I’ll join that other group, the ones that couldn’t even tell you where their passport is at any given time. Somewhere around the house, they’ll say. The ones that notice that it’s expired only after they’ve bought the ticket. Which reminds me, my first expiry date is coming up. Fingers crossed.
Suggestions for good hiding spots welcome!