Today I got my passport done. It was a most amusing experience.
I walked into the building about 15 minutes before they closed. I grabbed my number and waited my turn. There were two ladies working there, but only one of them could process passports. Why I don't know? It wasn't a difficult process. In fact, I'm sure a caveman could even do it.
The lady with the foreign accent was the one doing passports. Now, that's a bit ironic. I gave her all my paperwork. I didn't have my father's birth date on the form, so she asked me for that. I told her I didn't know, and that he is deceased. Well, she still needed his year anyway. I told her I didn't know. She told me to guess. Well, if I have to guess at it, then why is it so important? Then she saw his age on my birth certificate and she figured out that he was born in 1928. Ok, that sounds good. Sure, lets put that down. I don't know what my father's date of birth has to do with getting a passport and proving that I'm a US citizen. I'm 40 years old and I only have to prove citizenship because I'm trying to go outside of the country I was born in. Well, I thought that is why I provided them with a certified birth certificate and my drivers license. So, sure my dad was born in 1928.
She decides the passport application is complete, so then it is time to take my picture. We go over to the picture area and I stand in front of the white background placard. She is holding the camera and then tells me to move over to my left. Why would I move to the left when I am standing in the center of the background and she is the one with the camera? Who am I to argue? I move to my left. Then she tells me to move to the right. Here? Here? Here? Ok...she takes the picture. She shows me the picture and I tell her ok, cuz I don't want to have to move, move, move again. At least I'm smiling in it and I don't look like I just robbed a bank.
We went back to the counter and she inspected my drivers license. She couldn't tell if the 6 on my drivers license was a 6 or a 5. Was I born in 1968 or 1958. Well, lets see my birth certificate says 1968 and my passport application says 1968. I don't look 40, let alone I do certainly not look 50. Good grief woman! So she still can't make it out, tells me she needs glasses. She asks me if I have a copy of my birth certificate. I told her, "No, you have my certified copy". So she makes me a copy. She tells me I should have 2 copies. One for my house, and one to carry with me. She told me I should have 2 copies of all legal identification forms. One at my house and one to carry with me. Yeah, that's a good idea. Carry all forms of ID on me. Now if that's not screaming "Hey identity thieves, come and get me!!" I don't know what is. I tell her ok, thanks for the copies, I'll do that. I'm not going to argue with a government worker 10 minutes before closing time.
She makes a copy of my drivers license, but she blows it up so it takes up the whole page of an 8x11 sheet of printer paper. Then she decides that indeed that it does say 1968, not 1958. Oh, I'm glad we got that cleared up.
After the whole process is done, she has me raise my right hand. I had to solemnly swear that I didn't use a fake drivers license, fake birth certificate, or fill out bad information on my passport application. I guess if you exclude my father's birth date, then yes, I didn't lie or give you phony identification. Because getting a certified copy of your birth certificate is a pain in the ass, why would I get any body else's but my own? I also had to swear that the picture she took of me indeed is me and looks like me. Well, I didn't see my twin in this office, so I'm pretty sure that the picture she took of me and attached to my paperwork is indeed me.
Then I had to pay. I had one check left in my checkbook. I figured that would do the trick. Nope, you have to write 2 checks. So I wrote one check, and paid cash for the other portion. Apparently the money goes to two different places and they can't separate it out.
After all this it is time for me to go. The whole process took about a half an hour. Two people walked in their office after closing time. The foreign passport lady was still working with me, so the other lady pulled the numbers. The foreign lady asked who was next. A lady stepped up to the counter and the foreign lady says "What number do you have?" The lady states she has no number. "Back of the line you go, you don't have a number, you go to the end of the line." The only other customer standing in the office besides me and the lady with no number was a gentleman and he had a number. So the foreign lady decided he could get service first. He declined and told her to help the lady first. The foreign lady didn't like that much. Then the guy pipes up loudly and says "One thing, make sure you always grab a number first in a place like this. What ever you do, you better get a number." I snickered to myself and was glad I was done, because this did not make the foreign, passport, lady who needed glasses, and was working past closing time not very happy.
I left to go home and hope I get my passport and returned certified copy of my birth certificate in the mail in a few weeks. I'm just glad they last 10 years.