Passport Fails

They say procrastination spawns from fear of failure, so we put off doing work out of fear that our work sucks. Which goes to explain, I’m not a procrastinator, I’m just a real lazy asshole. My lazy ass has bitten me plenty of times, usually in my wallet. In May of this year, my passport expired, and like my true self, I thought I’ll renew it *tomorrow*. Invites to hangout with friends in Vancouver B.C. came and went with my many replies of, “I can’t, my passport expired, but I’ll renew it tomorrow. So next time for sure.”

At some point, I realized, “tomorrow” will probably mean “next year” when I really need it for my trip to Australia.

My brand of laziness is apparently genetic because I’m actually the least lazy of my family. My sister has been talking about going to China since the beginning of the year, and she just booked her plane tickets for early November. On a whim, my mother, the boyfriend and I decided to join her. So now I really need a passport to get my traveling visa to China.

I made an appointment for me and my sister (surprise!) to have our passports renewed in person yesterday and it was for this morning at 11:30.

This morning at 10:30, I googled the address of the passport building then left the condo to have my passport photos taken before going in. Sure sure, I should have had my pictures taken yesterday, but it’s the lazy gene. Unless there’s a fire right under my ass, I see no reason to move. Keep in mind, though, the passport agency is only ten blocks from my home, and there is Bartell’s right between us, so one hour to grab some photos and drive a few blocks to a place doesn’t seem ill planned. Except there is some Loki of the universe that understands I’m on time crunch and decides this is the perfect comedic setup.

I get to Bartell’s (where I got some passport photos taken for my LSAT just two months ago, so I know they do photos), and they tell me their printer is broken, so I would have to get them elsewhere. I asked if he knew where else I could get them, and he said, UPS across from them. No big deal, it’s a quick run. The guy at UPS sat me on a chair and fiddled with the camera, then said, “You’ll have to have your photos from Bartell’s because someone forgot to recharge the batteries and it’ll be another 30 minutes before these are ready.” Of course. I explained to him that I just came from Bartell, and their printer died. He told me of various other locations a few blocks away, I told him I really needed the photos for my passport appointment in about 45 minutes, and offered to buy them replacement batteries for the camera (they were AA batteries) from Bartell’s. It would be easier than trying to find parking elsewhere in Capitol Hill. He tried to say he’s not allowed to buy batteries, but I told him I would happily pay for them, and it’s really no big deal for me to pay for the batteries, he would be doing me a huge favor in accepting them. It could be the desperation in my eyes, but he agreed and told me he would only charge me for one of my two sets of passport photos. Sweet!

I ran back to Bartell’s an asked guy I spoke to earlier for 4 AA batteries, which came to three something, not a bad trade for one set of photos which usually runs $19. After depositing the batteries into the UPS guy’s hands, I took a seat in the chair again. There were some attempts at clicking on the camera after the batteries were installed and he said, “It’s not working, because one of the batteries is corroded.” Even the batteries are fucking with me. I couldn’t help but laugh at that point, the UPS guys looked worried about me. Two dead-pan expression guys couldn’t possibly cope with a hysterical woman. When I got back to Bartell’s for the 3rd time, I flagged the guy that sold me the batteries and showed him the hazardous looking battery. He apologized profusely, and checked each ends of a new pack and told me it looked safe.

Arriving at UPS for the 3rd time also, I plopped myself onto the chair again and waited. The guy looked concern, so I asked if the camera is even turning on. He told me it seemed to be working. It was really hard to pose with the stupid grin on my face over the whole situation. As everyone knows it is a passport photo requirement to look like your dog just died, a photo that looked like you’re bursting from barely controlled glee is just not acceptable. The first picture he took of me had too much tilt in my head, but the second one came out okay.

I looked at their rack of cards with animals in strange poses while waiting, it was a bit like animal porn. Dirty. The guy went back and forth clicking on the printer and camera with the concerned look yet again. With time not on my side, I asked the guy if everything was okay because he looked very concerned to me. He reply with the same dead-pan expression, “Everything is just fine, this is the just “look” my mother gave me.” His face actually cracked a smirk when I laughed at his words. I’m totally going to steal that line. When they were done, he gave me both sets of photos for free even though I tried to pay him for them. In the end, I thanked him and hurried to my car.

As I approached the passport building, I called my sister to see if she was near, and she said she was a couple blocks away. With almost half an hour to spare, I felt so proud of us for making it to something early-ish and being able to stroll into the building in a leisurely fashion (first time!). Like all government building, soon as I entered the door, I’m greeted by the sight of a metal detector and x-ray belt. Just because it has been that kind of day, I asked the guard if this was the passport building. He replied, “Oh, you didn’t know? They’ve moved.” I couldn’t tell if he was just fucking with me, because hey, even batteries got to take potshots, so why not him?

Me: Um, where did they move to?
Guard: Portland!
Me: Portland!?
Guard: Yeah, Portland.
Me: I’m not going to make it to Portland in 20 minutes. You have to be joking.
Guard: I am joking. Sorta.
Me: Really!?
Guard: Well, they did move, but it’s only 8 blocks away. Here’s a map.
Me: Wow, that’s great lead in!
Guard: It works.
Me: Yes, I actually feel happy about the move now.

It really did work. If I didn’t start with a panic attack about the move to Portland, I would have been annoyed about the 8 blocks move. He’s like Charon, guiding us through the Styx River to our doom, but with a great opener. I called my sister to tell her to meet me at the new location.

Of course this led to my sister and I doing our standard we’re-so-fucking-late-run to our destination. We had to park illegally and pray that we would only get ticketed and not get towed, but thanked god we both drove huge freaking monster vehicles because it would take effort to tow our vehicles.

The passport office, like any other government office, is a place of doom and gloom. It was eerily quiet and the guards look like they’ll throw you out if you do so much as cough. They did have a stern talking to my sister when she checked text messages on her phone. We got in line for appointment check-ins and exchange our passport photos for quick laughs. I cackled at my sister’s photos and asked her how she got her eyes to look all fucked up like that. Keep in mind, when we last had our family photos done at a studio, the photographer tried to surprise her with a puppet to get her to smile like she’s not in pain, or maybe like she actually enjoys standing next her family.

Once we got to guy checking over our documents, he gave my sister a sheet of paper telling her to write why her passport was damaged and sign it. My sister looked confused, so I told her to just write, “My passport is damaged because…” Waited for her to finish. Then suggested, “…because I beat the shit out of everything I own, cellphones, boyfriends, and passports.” She smiled, nodded then wrote it was water damaged. We both laughed at what a crap excuse it was. The guy told us our passport would be ready the next day at 11:00 a.m.

One of these days we’ll get somewhere at a leisurely pace, like maybe when we’re eighty and we have no other pace.

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