It started when the Viet Nam war was going strong and American men who left the USA to avoid the draft and wandered trying to live abroad.They claimed the war was wrong, so they just wouldn’t do there duty. However, to live abroad you needed to have a valid passport to travel, and so these same “WOL” young men, not being able to use their passport, knowing the US government would trace them and put them in prison tried to steal US passports in order to travel from place to place, or even travel back to America under a different name. A new business was started with crooked people stealing passports, and then selling them to these same young men.
This became a problem for American business travelers, because in many cases they were away from their hotel rooms just having dinner with customers, or local manufacturers. It just wasn’t smart to carry your passport with you at all times for just that reason, you were prone to being mugged, or worse. So, when I entered a country, I put my passport in a safe place in my room, and traveled with locals in each country I was in.
Thailand (SIAM) was a country with very lax laws and allowed these same young men to stay there, expecting them to spend American dollars while they remained. So, many locations in Bangkok catered to them while they had the money to do so. They couldn’t work to earn money, cause the local labor force was so cheap, they couldn’t compete.
On one trip, I brought my son Trey and he and I did my business together, and eventually travelling to a vacation city for a few days of fun. We were able to rent jet ski’s and run around with them, till I had to get back to business. Back to Bangkok to meet a manufacturer and to fly to my next country, usually Hong Kong. Some time while we did our thing, someone got into my room and stole my passport. It probably was a servant making money on the side, but no way for me to know. I complained to the manager who I knew pretty well, but he could nothing, knowing my passport was into the wind on a plane going back to America, or Canada.
So, I naturally went with Trey, who still has his passport, to the Local US consular office to tell them my problem and request a new passport. As we were entering the building we noticed a very, very large line going out into the street. Approaching the Guards at the entrance, I explained what had happened and want to enter to report my passport stolen and request a new one. They laughed as it wasn’t new to them, but they said I would have to wait on the long line. I laughed back at them and said look at my eyes and look at my son, do we look like locals. They said they couldn’t let me in and I said trey, show them your passport, which he did, and I said to trey “Am I your Father”? Naturally he laughed and said of course, we look alike, which we did. I then said This can’t be the first time you have heard of an Americans passport being stolen? With that I turned to Trey and we boldly walked into the building. he as an American and me as his father.
The problem was only just beginning, as we approached the desk, the person said I had to wait on that line. I looked at him and said listen, my passport was stolen and I need a new one, who do I speack to, or do I find a supervisor and start complaining as an American citizen who is being abused! Trey again showed his passport with his picture clearly on it, telling the man that I was his father and My passport was stolen. I was proud of the way Trey talked and finally the man sent us to another desk where we sat down told the whole story of why I was Bangkok, how we were staying at the ???? Hotel and how the manager could verify my many visits to Bangkok. I then said that I’m sure he knew of many of the same incidences happening all over the world, and could I please now get a new passport. You must remember in those days, the Internet and computers were in the future, so he said I had to fill out a long form, and I said whatever it will take, but I’m nor leaving here till I have my passport in hand. He realized I was not be played with, and knew trouble was in the wind, so He called over a Supervisor, and I met with him going through the story, but he was a man of action and knew he didn’t need bad press. Trey and I left both with passports!