Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Florida to Cancun 14-Week Delayed Passport Blues

When I applied for my passport in July, I hadn’t even settled on a trip to take. I did not pay for expedited processes, because I knew I’d be traveling on Christmas break.

I had a passport back in the Seventies. Eventually, the papers got all stiff and a little moldy, and I tossed it out.

Bad idea. But that was the good old pre-911 days when Americans didn’t have to stand on one leg and spit nickels to prove you are a gen-u-wine, bone-a-fi-dee U.S. cit-eye-sin.

Submitting your old passport apparently earns bonus points and helps you win the amazing race not to lose the money one has paid for the trip.

Yes, I do have trip insurance but I didn’t notice “didn’t get my passport on time” as a reason for reimbursement.

Within three weeks, the State Department sent a letter saying my birth certificate was no good.

It was issued by Schenectady County with a seal, damned upstart Dutch province established long before the colonies became a united-states of anything – and who can trust those demmed furriners to know whether I was born or not.

I had to order a copy from the New York State Department of Health.

The next part of the cock-up is my fault – I did not read the fine print. I sent a check for $30 for 10-12 week processing, instead of $45 for two to four week processing. So sue me, my eyes are not as good as they used to be, I’m bad at paperwork, and I did this right after the death of my mom when I was seriously grieving and handling all the details of her passing.

When I called about three weeks later, I was told not to expect the birth certificate for a long time. So long that there seemed scant chance I could get it to the State Department in time.

New York State had a simple solution for that, however: Pay us $65 right now and we will get the passport to you in five to 10 days.

This turned out to be a lie, as it took 15 days. Nothing I could do about it and, of course, no refunds to me for their poor performance.

Being stressed out about the process, I next paid $56 for overnight delivery to the State Department and $72.72 (yes, really, 7-2-7-2, does someone have a number fetish in the Passport Office?) for expedited processing.

So, I guess I will be going to Cancun and the Mayan ruins for Winter Solstice and can slip through some crack in the cosmic egg or whatever is supposed to happen then.

No comments: