This post is a heartfelt shout-out to Sgt. Sarah Wilson and Ms. Trina Tauvela of the Auckland Airport, my dear Uncle Alan and Aunt Daphne and the honest person who found my wallet:

Him and I were standing in the security checkpoint line at the Auckland Airport, chatting about potential occupations (Kitten Wrangler, Professional Sumo Wrestler, Underwater Basket Weaver, etc.) we could list on the Singapore immigration forms, when I heard my name called. Turning around, I was quite taken aback to find my cousin James and his new wife, Giselle, standing directly behind us in line. We had bid good-bye to the happy couple just a few days before and certainly didn’t expect to see them again on this trip. But they happened to be departing on their Hawaii honeymoon the exact same day we were leaving New Zealand for Singapore.

If you’ve never experienced one yourself, a family reunion in a foreign airport security line is a highly improvised, scattered ordeal involving a great deal of awkward hugging and baggage juggling. To further complicate things, I even shot an impromptu picture of James and Giselle crossing the metal detector threshold (perhaps to later prove this encounter actually took place?). It was lucky I did. This photograph would serve as important evidence later.

Auckland airport

Photo used to determine what time we went through the metal detector

We were in the air, en route to Melbourne and our connecting flight to Southeast Asia, when I realized I didn’t have my wallet. (Panic ensues). While the contents did not include my passport or any cash, I was missing two credit cards, my Hosteling International card, my driver’s license (“Oh please don’t make me go back to the DMV!”). The most egregious loss, however, had to be my last New Zealand Post-issued, commemorative Hobbit stamp, a keepsake when we realized we didn’t have any more postcards to send.

“Well, you’ll never see any of that again,” Him said.

And so I was determined to prove him wrong. As soon as we landed in Melbourne, I used Skype to call the Auckland Airport and was eventually connected to Sgt. Sarah Wilson of the Aviation Security Service. Sgt. Wilson had no record of my wallet (she called it a “purse” — amusing British-based terminology), but she took it upon herself to personally review perhaps an hour of security footage to find the segment featuring my turn at the metal detector. She kept me abreast of any developments via phone and email.

Here’s a sample of our email correspondence to demonstrate how dedicated this kind woman is:


Sent: Thursday, 10 January 2013 1:10 p.m.

From: Megan Winslow

To: Sarah Wilson

Subject: Also…

My husband was in line behind me. He was carrying a soft guitar case (a rectangle) that might look suspicious to some screeners. He has dark hair, glasses and is wearing a gray T-shirt and brown pants. We look like backpackers and are both 30 years old.

My male cousin (blond hair, skinny) had his shoes dusted as a random check. His wife was very well-dressed in a dark blue strapless dress with flowers and a white jumper on her shoulders. She is blond, short and had her hair braided in plaits on her head.

I have light brown hair in a short ponytail, glasses, a light blue/purple shirt and dark blue cargo pants.

They might have called my name over the intercom just before we boarded. I was in the bathroom and I thought I heard my name but my husband didn’t so I thought I imagined it.


[NOTE: Did you catch the “jumper” mention? That’s simply me trying to fit in. For Americans: Jumper = Sweater]


Sent: Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 7:45 PM

From: Sarah Wilson

To: “‘Megan Winslow'”

Subject: RE: Also…

Hi Megan,

I have found you on CCTV. When you exit the roller bench you and the man in grey pick up everything in the trays. You first put what looks like a light khaki canvas bag across your body and over your left shoulder. You then pick up and black bag and do the same but on the other side. You are holding your passport with your boarding pass inside it in your left hand. You then pick up the items in your tray. If you imagine a square, the item I think is your purse is in the bottom left hand corner you pick it up and hold it in the same hand as your passport and then pick up what looks like a jacket and drape it over your arm. While you wait for the water to be dealt with you seem to be putting things in your bags and pocket. I don’t see you drop anything, you then take hold of the guitar case your other friend arrives, you take photos and go.

At no time does anyone else touch your trays and your trays are all empty when you walk away from the screening point.

We have already contacted the airport lost property and nothing has been handed in to them as yet. Try them again later today or tomorrow on 256 8818.

Good luck,


Sent: Friday, 11 January 2013 11:37 a.m.

From: Sarah Wilson

To: ‘Megan Winslow’

Subject: RE: Missing Purse

Hi Megan,

Your wallet has been found. Apparently it was handed to bar staff by a passenger. Can you verify that the below list is what was contained in your wallet please:

 1 x Florida Driving Licence

 1 x Charles Schwab Visa

 1 x Wells Fargo Visa

 1 x Hostelling USA Card

 1 x YHA Connect Card

 1 x Hobbit stamp

 There was no cash.

The airport company currently have it in their possession. They were approached by an elderly English couple this morning whose name they have and they are going to return around 4pm this afternoon and collect it on your behalf.

I am cc’ing the airport company into this email so that we all know what’s happening. I am very glad we were able to locate it for you.


Sarah Wilson


With the help of Ms. Trina Tauvela, a receptionist in the airport Operations Centre/Lost and Found, the wallet was placed in the custody of my Uncle Alan and Aunt Daphne, who made two trips to the airport (before their own flight back to the U.K.) to retrieve it.

I’ve asked Alan and Daphne to keep the wallet for me until I can either retrieve it from the U.K. en route home or request they mail it to Florida. I’m not entirely sure if I’ll have a driver’s license when I return home, but I do know that “One Hobbit Stamp” is going into a frame as soon as I see it again.