Friday, October 14, 2005

A Bad Day...

A bad day
It all started with a happy day.... as most of you know, I just got married last fall. It was a wonderful and happy day, the first anniversary of which is nigh upon us the 16th of October (that's this Sunday for you non-countin' folk)

Well, I have a passport, albeit a couple of years old, and it's even got a really nice picture in it. See, I was really skinny back when that picture was taken and I'm kind of fond of that passport even though my dieting days made me an insane crazy person (to put it mildly), I'm still fond of the skinny chick in the official govt. picture. i even delude myself into thinking that I still look like that sometimes.

So, back to the topic at hand. I got married last fall and changed--my--name. Yeah. Going to Italy this week and I'd forgotten that my passport was in my maiden name. So, last week, I called the 800# listed on the website to schedule an emergency appointment. They let you do that if you're travelling within 14 days. I called on Monday of last week and the first available appointment was this Wednesday (2 days before my alleged departure...) So, the phone service tells me that all I have to bring is marriage cert, old passport, proof of travel dates and pic id with new name. Check, check, check and CHECK.

Wednesday morning (really I don't procrastinate like this all the time) at 6:30 a.m., when I'm trying to leave for my new job that's only 3 wks old, (my new job who is, incidentally, already not so happy that I'm leaving town for a week and that I have to leave in the middle of the day to go and get my passport updated), I can't find my old passport. Let's say that again shall we? I cannot find my old passport.

Freak out #1: [Commence Internal Wheel Spinning] Oh yeah, new job, photocopies for tax purposes. Maybe it's at work. [end IWS] Hop in car and start speeding off for work. 10 minutes from the house I realize that there's no way it's at the office cause it's in my maiden name so I wouldn't have used it. Too late to turn around. Guess I'll leave work a little earlier than I had planned to go downtown and swing back by the house to search some more.

Freak out #2 Meeting at work, surprise to the new girl on the block, Introductions of new staff to the entire Communications and Marketing Fashionista Team. Yeah, um, I didn't wash my hair this morning.

Freak out #3 Driving home before heading downtown. Told boss that I would be back at work later in the afternoon to finish working the rest of the day. [Re-Commence Internal Wheel Spinning] Maybe it's in my big bag that ... NO! How could I be so irresponsible?!!??! What the hell did you do with it you idiot!??!" [end IWS]

Driving up to the house: Okay, I'll just go inside and check the folder where I normally keep it, one single page at a time. Taa-Daa!!! There it is!! FOUND!! Wave passport at them and they all smile and look Understanding though I KNOW they all think I'm crazy. Don't care, race back out to the car and burn rubber out of the garage in an attempt to get downtown before said 1:00 pm appointment. Blood pressure's up: hot and sweaty. Windows down, hanging head out like a dog in the summer time, tongue lolling in the wind.

Get on the road and head down 294 towards the Kennedy junction. Cruising along just fine despite the inordinate number of mid-day elderly and generally poor driving lunatics on the road. Turn onto the ramp to go to the Kennedy and WHAM! Traffic stops. There are multiple lane closures in the middle of the day due to the installation of new toll lanes!!!! Aaaauuugggghhhh!!! .

S-L-O-W-L-Y progress through the toll lanes despite some jerk-y boy in a big unmarked white van putting his BUMPER ON THE FRONT OF MY CAR SO THAT HE CAN GET IN MY LANE!!!!!

Call dear friend who lives in St. Louis now and gripe to her about what an idiot I am and how stressed out I am. She dutifully tells me that all will be okay and proceeds to talk me through the remainder of my trip downtown. God bless her. [Still over heated and "glistening", God I'm so happy I quit dieting so that I can be over heated in 50 FRIGGING degrees!] {breathe}

Make it downtown with no accidents and 15 minutes to spare. Oh yeah, there's NO parking down near the Federal Building. Drive around to all the rat hole hidden parking lots I can think of and all are full. Why cause it's party day for the rats! They're having a shindig and cars are not allowed!! ....Finally find garage that isn't full and high tail it to the Fed Bldg.

Realize that Awesome-Little-Brother-the-Newly-Licensed-Attorney is clerking for a federal judge. Maybe he's in the same building. Call and leave him a message as I run, asking where he is and if he wants to say Hi before I leave for Italy on Friday.

Go through Security, no problems. Run to elevators, because it's now about 2 minutes before my appointment time and I'm terrified that they won't see me if I'm one minute late. Get to the Passport floor, sweating, trying not to pass out from heat stroke and stress.

Now let's revisit this a little, shall we? The automated appointment machine told me that I needed what? Marriage cert, old passport, proof of travel dates and pic id with new name. Check, check, check and CHECK.

Go up to the window and the lovely young woman says to me as I pass her my passport and marriage certificate,
"Do you have your application?"
"Uh, no."
"How about new pictures?"
""New WHAT??" [I have not washed my hair today....]
"New pictures."
"I'm sorry, I'm just here for a name change."
"I know, you have to apply for a whole new passport." [already I'm seeing my dreams of returning to work near the Wisconsin border evaporating before my eyes...]
"I have to do what? Why didn't the phone service tell me that??!! I thought you were just going to put a sticker in the old one!! " [Desperation creeps into my voice as I stand there feeling my blood pressure rise and tears start to well up in my eyes]
"Well, it's a new system and we haven't updated everything yet. Fill out this application, go across the street to Walgreens and get new pics taken and we'll honor your original appointment." [I nearly crumpled]
[in the smallest voice possible and on the verge of tears] "But I don't want to take new pictures... my old passport has a pretty, skinny picture in it..." [she really was a nice person and I made her laugh a little]
"I'm sorry, you have to go take new pictures."
"I'm going to cry."
"Oh, please don't cry..." [sigh, I take my application and my paper work and start downstairs again.]

I crossed the street and went to the nearest passport picture place I could find where they proceeded to charge me $35 for new pictures of my huge sweaty head with unwashed hair that looks like I stuffed an air-hose up my behind. The very nice lady at the picture place handed me my pictures (two sets of two different pics, one with little double chin and one with big double chin). When I took then out to look at them, I really did start to cry, and I cried back across the street, through Security for the 2nd time and all the way up to the office on the 18th floor. The nice young lady checked my paper work and told me to go get in the next line and someone would call my number.

Just as an aside, they have really nice facilities up there. Clean bright, friendly and there was no one else but myself in the office when I came.

So I sat for a few minutes until the next lady called my number. She took all my paper work and punched holes in my pretty picture passport so it's officially dead.
"Can I have my old passport back?"
"You'll get it back when you receive your new passport." [Now, Gentle Reader, the manner in which she delivered this small tidbit of information led me to suddenly question *when, in fact,* I would be getting my new passport back?]
"And when might that be since I'm leaving on Friday night???"
Passport lady #2 responds to my general anxiety by getting her undies all up in a bunch and getting nasty back at me... I don't remember the exact exchange, but it culminated in her asking if I wanted to wait around and pick it up "later today".
"Yeah, I'll wait." [foolish me, I thought it would be like an hour or less. At this point it is 1:30 and I'm thinking I might still get back to New Job.]
"Okay, here's your pick up receipt. They'll ask for it when you come back to pick it up... come back between 3 and 4:00." [Can you hear my reputation at my new job crumbling like the Towering Inferno?]

Oh yeah, and I haven't eaten since 6:00 this morning either AND I forgot to take something to knit while I waited, which would have helped to calm my anxiety. [sigh]

So, I start to cry again as I'm walking out of the office and I decide to go get some lunch. I walked east one block and came upon a Garrett's Popcorn shop. Knowing full well, that I should keep walking and find some real food, I instinctively turn into said shop and get the smallest nag of mixed caramel and cheese corn they make. I ate about 3 handfuls and immediately got sick to my stomach. So I walked across the street and went to Subway (which reminds me too much of my starving dieting days) and got a sandwich, which was icky. Bleah...

With no call back from Awesome Brother and an hour and half to kill, I went to Barnes and Noble and picked up a Streetwise laminated map of Rome and Knit Lit,too. A little nurturance for the soul on this most challenging of days, or a little in flight reading pleasure, as necessary.

Then Awesome Brother calls and says "Hey, I'm right across the street from where you were, are you still here? Wanna meet for coffee?"

HOORAY!!! So Brother Bear and I had a yummy cuppa from Intelligentsia which has WAY better java than that silly Mermaid place.

We chat for about an hour and I feel totally special that my little Brother Bear has taken an full hour out of his important busy lawyerly day to meet his not-feeling-so-good-about-herself sister. I'm really proud of him and I think he's a totally cool dude. I got lucky in the sibling department. Then, far too soon, it's time to go back to the Evil Passport Office. Oh yeah, and I haven't called my boss to tell her that I'm still downtown either, so I'm still dreading that and it's hanging over my head. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Back through Security for the THIRD time today and on up to the 18th floor. I got into the pick up room and there were about 100 people in there. Oddly enough, I gave my will-call ticket to the lady expecting to settle in for the long wait and not a minute after my butt hit the seat she was calling my name! Thank God for small favors.

Now it's 3:15 and I already know that there's no way with Chicago traffic that I'll get back to work before 5:30 pm. So, as I walk to my car I'm deciding exactly what to say to my boss to let her know that I'm not coming back to work and Brother Bear calls. "Hey, did you get your passport? Do you want to come see my office?"

Totally! So I head across the street and march through Security for the 4th time in one day, with thoughts of cancerous x-rays beaming through my already weakened frame. Brother Bear meets me in the lobby and escorts me up to the top floor where, as we are walking into the office, his boss, Federal Court of Appeals Judge, the Honorable William J. Bauer, steps into the hallway wearing his hat and coat.

[Did I mention I hadn't washed my hair??]

"Ah, is this your lovely sister?? I'd heard she was in the vicinity and I hoped I would get to meet her before I left for the day...."

He was handsome, distinguished, gracious, kind and funny gentleman of about 80. I sincerely hope I didn't say anything foolish. I followed Brother Bear's lead and called him "Your Honor" and "Sir". Then I got to meet the rest of the folks in his office which amounted to exactly three people, which made me even more impressed that he'd taken a full hour to have coffee with me. It was really cool. The judge's secretary let us take a small tour of the Judge's Chamber's and the Federal Court of Appeal of the 7th District since court was not in session. Brother Bear showed me where he sits while court is in session and he showed me his very big, very lawyerly desk surrounded by countless very dry looking legal texts.

I also met one of his co-clerks, Mike, who was a very nice man as well. It was neat how nice everyone was.

Finally, after much praise and proud feelings on behalf of my younger sibling, I headed down to the street and my lonely little vehicle. Funny thing is I called my boss after I left my brother's office and told her I was "Just leaving the passport office" and she was really cool about it and just said make it up later this week".

Total cost for the day including parking, passport photos, new passport Rush Job, lunch, coffee, map and book? $229.00 oh yeah, and then there was gas... which I didn't include.

End of day: home by 5:00, new passport in hand and on the sofa with a bottle of yummy Zinfandel from my favorite winery. If today had been a football game, there would have been a penalty for "Unnecessary Roughness" or "Roughing the Pass(port)er". Thank Goodness vacation starts tonight!



Blogger Margaretx said...

You are sooo funny. I laughed out loud! "Did mention I hadn't washed my hair this morning???"

You're wonderful.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Margaretx said...

You are sooo funny. I laughed out loud! "Did mention I hadn't washed my hair this morning???"

You're wonderful.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Carol said...

I was crying by the time you were done. I know you didn't see the humor then, but it sure was funny to read. I hope you're having a fabulous time and can forget that whole passport fiasco!


9:37 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...


Must try

Oh my your passport story is enough to make me never fly away.

Whats the first yarn you bought so far?

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Lynn said...

This could be the script for a year on any soap opera!

I hope you had a wondeful, relaxing and peaceful time.


9:38 PM  
Anonymous Rosana said...

Did your hair smell?

9:51 AM  
Blogger Chicago Jen said...

LOL!! 'Sana you made me totally laugh!! By the end of the day when I met the judge, I would bet money that my hair smelled! ACK!! :) Only you would think to ask me that!

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Suze said...

British passport holders can use their old passports even after they assume a new surname upon marriage - I guess we're lucky!

I can't believe how much it cost you to get a new passport - extortion to say the least.

5:44 PM  

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