Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's just a minor detail

but the devil is, as they say, in the detail.

After some delays I finally got around to applying for my shiny new US passport yesterday. I've only been a yankee for a dozen days; what do you want? Same day application? I'd be interested in visiting the passport office near the district court where they do the swearing-in half an hour after the ceremony is over; one of the things they include in the 'new citizen' package is a map showing how to get there. I wonder how many new citizens march straight from the courthouse to the passport office?

Truth is I'm not in any great hurry to get my new passport; it's a convenient reason to be unable to travel to The Philippines. But I can only stall so long before the boss begins to smell a rat.

On the other hand, they do advise us to get a passport even if we don't plan to travel; it's a convenient way of carrying around our proof of citizenship and a damn sight easier to replace than a lost naturalisation certificate! Apparently that takes more than a year!

Thus off to the local post office on Tuesday morning to lodge the paperwork. No, you can't go to just any post office; it has to be one accredited for the purpose. Nor can you front up at any old time during business hours; no sirree bob, nope, that'd be too easy. They have, at the post office I went to, a 2 hour window 4 days a week when you can apply.

So I walk in and survey the scene. The usual long queues to the main counter. Over on the right is another counter with a cash register and a sign announcing that passport applications are only processed at that particular counter. But the counter is closed and lower down on the sign is the advice that for further detail 'see main counter'.

Sigh. Thirty people ahead of me in the queue for the main counter; two staff; the queue is moving like honey in the freezer. The bloke in front turns and, in the manner of everyone I've ever seen that far back in a queue (I've also done it and I'm sure you have too), remarks 'You'd think they'd open another counter'. Uh huh. I won't swear to it but I suspect an unwritten rule that the extra counter will be opened after the delivery of scientific proof that pigs are capable of flight.

Half an hour or so later I get to the counter! She points in the general direction of the aforementioned, closed, counter. I counter that that counter is closed! 'No', she says, 'no, you need to put your name at the end of the list on that clipboard. They'll call your name when it's your turn'.

Muttering unprintables under my breath I walk over and add my name to the bottom of the list. 5 names ahead of me so I apparently have time for a smoke. Out I go and, out of pure spite, have 2 smokes :-)

I went back in and stood around like a spare part waiting. Now there only 4 names ahead of mine and it's about this time that I notice the sign telling we passport aspirants that we should bypass the main queue and add our names to the clipboard. This is the minor detail of the title. You might imagine that the sign would be prominently displayed in a vertical position facing you as you enter the post office. Not a bit of it. The bloody sign was lying flat in a corner.


Eventually my name was called and up I front at the counter. Anti-climax; I'd filled out the form entirely to her satisfaction and indeed I was complimented on the completeness of the form. Not the first time that's happened; you might recall that when I had my naturalisation[^] interview the officer said much the same thing. I don't understand. I don't think I do anything special unless the specialness is to actually read the form and follow instructions! I note that, of the 4 people ahead of me, 2 were sent away to gather some missing document.

If all goes according to their schedule I should have my new passport sometime between November 21 and December 5. December 5 will suit me just fine! :-)


DeltaGuy said...

There's an episode of Becker where everything is going right for him. He has to go to the post office to pick up a parcel and when he gets there the line is empty and there's a window open. As he strolls up to the window the guy puts up a closed for lunch sign and walks off and there is a look of glee on Becker's face as it proves that everything can't go right for the whole day. But as that happens and really hot female postal worker opens the adjacent window and calls him over.

When he leaves the post office he mutters "you've never heard the phrase 'going doctor'"

Guy said...

I had no idea that I had an account called deltaguy or that I was signed in with it. This is a mystery to me...

By the way, also having stood in many queues (lines?) over the last year, "I feel your pain."