The next item on our check list: kids need renewed passports.
The photos on their current passports are cute, but don’t really look like them anymore. Suzanne & my passports display a slightly younger, slimmer, less stressed, less grey version of the people who will be standing at various customs counters around the world. So we don’t need ours renewed.
So, over the holiday break we trundled down to the Costco to get the kid’s passport pictures taken. When Suzanne saw the results of the pictures she observed, “Well, this is probably what they will look like after sleeping on a plane, in their clothes”. I had to agree; not photos we are going to include in the Christmas cards next year.
Next, Suzanne did the research, printed out the forms, and discovered both parents must be present when applying for children. She arranged for a convenient day when the kids were home from school and I was around. We headed to the local city offices to submit the forms and pay the fees. As we entered the office we spotted a sign on the counter: “appointment required for passport applications”. Ooops! Darn! When the woman who takes the forms came to the counter she smiled sweetly and said “Would you like to make an appointment?” To which we replied “Since we are already here, and we have all the forms and the checks ready to go, can’t we just turn this in to you now?” She smiled sweetly and said “No. Would you like an appointment?” We left in a bit of a huff.
At first, I was galled by this bit of bureaucratic ridiculousness. Then, remembering that we are dealing with both a federal agency and regional government at 3:30 in the afternoon, I began to adjust my expectations. Also, this is exactly why we are handling this months before we leave – we have time.
Flash forward to this week. Suzanne made an appointment at a local post office. We showed up right on schedule. The little, cluttered office was locked and vacant. After 10 minutes of waiting at the place labeled “Line up here for passport applications”, Suzanne walked over to the main counter and got some attention. Clearly, my expectations are still too high, why would I expect that once we had an appointment that anyone would be there to help us at the appointed time? We crowded into the little office, signed a couple forms, surrendered the original versions of the kid’s birth certificates, wrote a couple checks, and chatted with Wilma the postal clerk from Manila about how she rode a bike in Tokyo. Of all the places in the world that I think a foreigner should be riding bikes, Tokyo and Mumbai are at the bottom of my list.
After 30 minutes we were back out into wonderful California afternoon sun. I expect we will see the kid’s passports and birth certificates in the next 6 weeks… but my expectations continue to be adjusted.