Monday, June 8, 2009

Venting

As some of you probably know, I had an "appointment" today at the U.S. Passport Agency in DC this morning. I now understand that the term "appointment" is to be quite loosely. I arrived at 11:09am (yes, I'm that anal that I checked the time before going in since I was early). I needn't have worried. After going through airport-like security and a metal detector, I was directed to a security guard. He asked if I had an "appointment", to which I answered, "Yes". I had the misfortune of hearing him tell the lady ahead of me that everyone had the same "appointment", I was prepared for the worst. But alas, I was not prepared enough. Not nearly enough.

I entered the queue (I'm getting my vocab ready for England) and finally reached the "appointment" check-in window a little before 12:30pm (to their credit, when I entered the line, the scrolling LED screen on the wall indicated the wait time to be approximately 76 minutes). The lady working the window was very friendly. She looked over my documents, informed me that they no longer do amendments to passports for name changes, and confirmed that yes, in fact, I did need a new passport. She gave me the appropriate paperwork to fill out and issued me a number. A0124.

I honestly can't remember what number they were calling when I received my number, but I was discouraged, to say the least. The slip of paper that indicated my number also indicated that it was issued at 12:30pm and that the "estimated wait time" would be 27 minutes. So I'm thinking, hmmmm, I'll fill out the paperwork and probably have to deal with a restrained, hungry, sleepy toddler for about 20 minutes. Not exciting, but tolerable.

Well, we waited. And waited. And screamed. And wrestled. I attempted to give Jillian a cheese stick. She ate part of it and shredded the rest to the floor. I attempted to give her water. She threw her sippy cup at someone. I attempted to give her a banana. She ate half and got mad at me. I gave up and ate the other half. At 1:18pm (I'm not embarrassed to admit that at this point I'm keeping track of every minute that passes), they called the gentleman sitting one seat from us. He was number...wait for it...109. Holy crap.

I decided it was time for action (action is defined here as leaving and finding the nearest place that served decent beer). Luckily, as we walked around (I figured we had at least a half hour to kill at this rate), we found Mackey's. John and I had been there a few years ago, P.B. (pre-baby). We were seated outside and the staff was quite friendly and accommodating of me with a bulky stroller and a restless baby. I ordered us a basket of fries and ordered me a Smithwicks. And another Smithwicks. Aaahhh...at least I no longer felt the urge to throw a tantrum myself.

We paid up and returned to the dreaded passport office. All I could hope was that they were into the 120's. Remember my number? 124. We go through the airport-like security again to discover they are now serving number 115. Seriously? For real? There are few things that can compare to the emotions and foul sentiments that were running through my head. I think my eye began to twitch.

Luckily(?) the next numbers passed quickly(-ish). Our number appeared on the screen and I was off like a crazed person to our designated window before they even announced the evil 124. I may have run people down. I'm not certain in the blur that was my mad dash to the window (lest they skip me *ACK* and move on).

Again, the lady at that window was also quite friendly. She processed my paperwork, accepted my payment (OF COURSE), and informed me that my passport could be picked up June 10th (Wednesday) at 11:30am. WHAT?!? Are you f-ing kidding me?!? She informed me that to get a same-day passport, I must be traveling the same day that I'm there. WHAT?!? Do people actually wait until the day they're traveling to attempt to navigate this debacle of a government office? WHAT?!?

You've no doubt noticed many "WHAT?!?"'s here. Thus is my level of disbelief. Still. Writing this hours later, "WHAT?!?", is the only thing that I can say. I admit. This is all my fault. I was remiss. I thought about this months ago, only to forget about it until my mom mentioned my passport to me a couple weeks ago. My current passport is perfectly good and not expired. It's just that it's in my maiden name. I wrongly thought that it would be quicker and easier to process than a request for a brand new passport. WRONG.

I am thoroughly convinced that I could have changed the name on my plane ticket and changed my name on my drivers license, etc. faster and easier today than I could obtain a new passport. And traffic was TERRIBLE on the way out of DC, to boot.

Thank you, faithful readers, for letting me vent. And I urge you, if you ever have an inclination to travel somewhere that requires a passport and don't already have one, DO NOT WAIT. I should have changed my passport over when I did all of my name-changing stuff after I got married. But I didn't. Now I'm paying the price. Do not ever have to go to the passport office in DC. It is terrible. Terrible.

6 comments:

lmc said...

I'm sorry you had such a horrible experience! I'm sure someday (after many more beers) you'll back and laugh.

Tara said...

Ewwww this makes me want to vent with you. I can't imagine waiting that long by myself much less with a 16 month old child. Glad you got a nice lunch out of it. Luckily, my passport doesn't expire until 2017 I think. Whew! Do not wait is the best advice!

Casy Schweickart said...

Oh man that really sucks!! I think I would have thrown a fit after all of that...or maybe lied and told them I was leaving that very night! ;0)

Emily said...

damn gina!

emk said...

(Um, I am so confused by Emily2's comment above!) Anyway, just wanted to offer some condolences on the bummer of a day. I can't believe you have to go BACK!! Argh! And I hear you about the traffic-- I drove my parents into DC yesterday and it was bad enough going into town that I decided to drive out a different way that, while not traffic-y, took FOREVER inching across all the neighborhoods! At least you got some beer. You must've been near my old office in DC b/c Mackey's was just down the street!

Brenna said...

think about your vacation...think about beer in england...think about no whiny babies!!!