I hate to admit this, but I’ve never had a passport. I’ve never needed one. They’ll let you take Caribbean cruises and trips to Mexico without one. But this year all that changes. My job is taking me to Monaco this summer. Yes, Monaco. Like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” Monaco. And so my life’s ambition of having a passport was to be fulfilled.
The State Department Web site contains all the rules, regulations, procedures, policies and fees. You can download the application and find the nearest passport agency, searching by zip code, state, handicap access, photo onsite and photo nearby. The internet is a very helpful tool when dealing with government agencies.
Collect Your Information
I printed out the paperwork, which was like four pages. I filled it all out, but didn’t sign it, just as instructed. I gathered my proof of US citizenship, which in my case was a certified copy of my birth certificate with a raised seal. You would think that after 37 years the seal would have smashed down a bit, but, luckily, no. And I had my proof of identity – my driver’s license with a recognizable photo.
Find Your Location
I did a search for the location nearest my office that had photo onsite. I was in luck – the main post office downtown is very close to where I work AND I know where the parking is for that building. I went one day during lunch, even though technically I was getting my passport for a work event, so this really was a work activity and I could’ve gone any time during the work day, but I’m just ethical that way.
Find the Correct Location
Well, for the record, the “main post office” is NOT this one right down here on Front Street by my office. Noooo. It’s the one alllllll the way down at the corner of 3rd and HELL. With the barbed wire fence around it. Where you have a fine selection of crack whores to go with your postal needs. At least the woman working the desk at the Front Street office was very helpful in directing me to the proper location. That’s a rarity at the post office.
Don’t Believe Everything You Read
At the main post office, I waited in line behind several people while one slow-moving employee manned the counter and three others stood off to the side talking. When it was finally my turn I approached the counter and said, “I need to apply for a passport.”
To which she replies, “You gotchure pictures?”
Now, you would think that given all the signs in this very room stating “WE NOW TAKE PASSPORT PHOTOS” that I could get my photo taken here. Ha!
“We ain’t got no fee-yum,” she says to me. “Closest place is down here at Walgreen’s…”
I wasn’t sure if she expected me to go buy her some fee-yum or if she was telling me that’s where I could get a photo made.
I sighed heavily and walked out, trying not to get discouraged. This was a big thing for me – I’d planned it all out. And when big things don’t go as I’ve planned, I tend to take that as a sign.
Tips for Taking a Successful Photo
I wasn’t familiar with this particular Walgreen’s she had referred to, so I headed where I knew I could get a passport photo made – Kinko’s in Midtown. That’s a little bit of a haul from the neighborhood I was currently in. I called my secretary and told her I wouldn’t be back to the office for a while.
The guy at Kinko’s that took my photo had the most bloodshot eyes I’d ever seen on a person. Instead of looking at the camera when he snapped the photo, I was looking up at his face thinking, “I guess if I had to work at Kinko’s I’d get stoned at lunchtime, too,” so my picture looks like my eyes are rolling back in my head. I considered asking him to take another one, but it was 13 bucks a pop and I figured that was probably a little vain as passport photos are not unlike driver’s license photos in that no one really expects them to be good. “It ain’t goin’ on your mantle,” as the post office lady said.
Try, Try Again
I eventually got back to the ‘hood and got everything turned in. Although I was a little concerned when she took my seal-imprinted birth certificate and stapled it all together with my paperwork and my photos. And I hate, hate, HATE having to ask stupid questions. “Umm…excuse me? Yeah, do you know if I’ll get my birth certificate back?” She assured me they’d mail it back to me with my passport. Who knew.
I arrived back at the office two hours after I’d left for this one simple errand.
Good Things Come
Yesterday, my passport arrived. I danced around like Steve Martin in The Jerk: “My passport’s here! My passport’s here! I AM somebody!”
Hopefully, this will not be a sign of how my trip to Monaco will go.