The Passport Absurdity

I've had a passport since I was 3 years old. Probably sooner, come to think of it. I was born in a foreign country, and when I was 3 we moved from Germany to the United States. Since then, I've had a passport.

In 2009, I got married, and my passport was no longer in my legal name. Then it expired. And now I am passport-less and occasionally this fills me with anxiety. What if I have to escape prosecution? What if I have a sudden craving for crepes and hop on a flight to France? What husband decides he wants to take me to Montreal for my birthday?

The last one is exactly what happened, and finally pushed me to get a new passport.

Now let me say, I think every other time I've gone to get a passport, at least when I could recall, I lived near DC. So we just went to the passport office or whatever, and it was all very official. Now, I am being forced to mail in all my stuff, which leads to my story of passport absurdity.

Step 1: Gather documentation.

In order to prove that I am who I say I am, and not trying to get a passport under some alias, like I'm Jason Bourne or something, I have to include a certified copy of my marriage license. For anyone who has not gotten married - you get one of these. ONE. Would you really want to mail the one piece of paper that proves you're married, via the ever reliable USPS, in hopes that you will ever see it again? Of course not. So, before I could even mail off my passport application, I first had to request a second certified copy of our marriage license from the state of NY.

Other than that, my old passport and a 2-page form was all the documentation required.

Step 2: Take a passport photo.

While this step wasn't actually difficult, I do still have some complaints to lodge. Personally, I would think that the photo portion of this process should be one of the most formal steps. I mean, I can gather a bunch of paperwork that says I'm someone, but without a photo to match to a name, you're kind of screwed. Then can someone please tell me why, for the love of god, I can get my photo taken by someone who works after school at a CVS? The entire process feels downright shoddy, like I'm getting a fake ID or posing for a damn mug shot.

Not to mention, they snap 2 photos with a crappy digital camera, plug the memory card into the Kodak EZ-Print6000, press a few buttons, cut out 2 photos, and voila - charge you $10. I was so outraged by this that I used A COUPON. I mean, what? Who uses a coupon for passport photos? I can afford the $10, but it's the principle of the matter. The amount of time and effort involved amounts to $2, $3 max. The girl who took care of my photos makes less than that in an hour, and I only took up 10 minutes of her time!

Step 3: Write a check
Renewal fee, expedited fee, overnight delivery fee, removing the staples from your photo fee (They have you take a $10 tiny photo and STAPLE IT TO THE FORM - asinine), lamination fee, hologram fee, and who knows what else. All I'm saying is, passports are expensive.

I had no idea what to do with the second photo, so I just threw it in the envelope with everything else, for good measure. Maybe some creepy government worker will pin it to his bulletin board and enjoy my mugshot for days on end.

Step 4: Approach a civil-servant with caution (AKA, visit the post-office)
I have to say, if I had a job where all I had to do all day was help people figure out postage, and I was pretty much guaranteed not to ever lose my job unless I actually physically assaulted someone, and I got a pension, I would probably be able to at the very least hold my own head up and show at least a tiny bit of interest in the person I'm taking to. But apparently this is too much to ask of my local postal employee.

To say that this person was disinterested would be an overstatement. I could go into a full diatribe on this, but I realize that this isn't really the fault of the passport process, so I'll leave it at this - lady, you're lucky the USPS is still in business, so show some damn interest in your job. Then again, you can always get a job at the UPS store, because they're nearly as unhelpful in most situations as you are.

Step 5: Wait.

This is probably the worst part. I paid the rush fee, and the overnight return, all of that, so I should be fine for our trip. But chances are I'll be getting my passport in the nick of time, and that just makes me antsy.

So, there you have it - my whiny rant on getting a new passport. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to fill out my civil service application so I can start spending my days making people feel like they're inconveniencing me by making me do my job.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 30, 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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