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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chucky, The Government, and The Passport

"It would be funny if it were not my hard-earned tax dollars at work."

Good day my friend!  May this be nothing short of a spectacular day for you, me and everyone else out there.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the story you're about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent (and guilty alike)."  Chucky needs a passport for his new job.  This is a short tale of those efforts so far.  "Just the facts, ma'am."
  • He fills out the required form online and prints it.
  • He goes to Costco Warehouse Club and gets a passport photo taken.
  • He finds his original birth certificate ~ signed, embossed and bona fide.  (It's on the side of that box that he arrived in.)
  • He makes certain that his valid driver's license is in his wallet.
  • He asks Tiffany for a blank check as she carries the checkbook.
  • As required by the instructions, he photo copies front and back of both birth certificate and driver's license.
  • He gathers all of the required information.
  • He goes to work.
  • An hour afterwards, he leaves the office for the nearest passport office ~ county clerk's office.
  • He walks up the courthouse steps.
  • Oops!  Sign says no sharp devices.
  • He walks back to the car and removes a can opener on his key chain and removes a pocket knife & fingernail clippers from his pocket.
  • Enters the court house and grabs a number.
  • Looks up at "Now Serving" video monitor.  What's that?  Uh-oh... This is not good.  A small banner is scrolling along the bottom that reads, "It may take an excessive amount of time for us to provide service due to recent budget cutbacks."  Now, I ask you... If this were a private business would I be seeing this disclaimer???
  • Wow!  Must be my lucky ducky day.  Within 5-minutes my number is called.  I can enter Room #2 now.  The robotic speaker asks that Number 123456, my number, please proceed to Window #3.  Psst... Although there appear to be eight windows in Room #2, only three of them are being manned. Recent budget cutbacks you know.
  • I hand over the paperwork to the clerk.
  • She hands back my photocopies.
  • "That will be $110.00 please."
  • "I thought that I was supposed to provide a photo copy of my birth certificate?" I ask when she hands back my photo copies.
  • "No sir.  I submit the original and they'll mail it back to you."
  • I write out the check for one hundred ten and no/100 and hand it through the window to the clerk.
  • "Oh?  I see that you wanted the passport and the book. That's $140.00, not $110.00"
  • "Ma'm, I only have the one check that I brought with me."
  • "That's okay" she said as she handed it back.  "You can mark the changes on the check."
  • So I changed from "$110.00" to "$110.00 $140.00" and from "One hundred ten" to "One hundred ten forty", initialing both changes.  I hand it back to her.
  • She has me take an oath and hands me the passport form to sign.
  • I sign the form and hand it back to her.
  • "No!"  "You can't use blue ink."  She hands it back to me.
  • I re-sign using black ink (borrow her pen) and hand it back to her.
  • Instead of single-striking out the blue signature she scribbles, scratches, and obliterates the blue signature so that it is now unrecognizable.  Wonder what the State Department will think happened here?  A voice in my head speaks, "Looks like a forgery to me."
  • "There's a $26.00 processing fee."
  • "I don't suppose that you take American Express, do you?"
  • "No sir.  We don't."
  • So I reached in my wallet, pulled out my VISA card and passed it through the window.
  • "Excuse me.  We don't take VISA sir."
  • "Is American Express okay?" I ask wondering what planet I am living on.
  • "Yes sir.  We take American Express but there's an additional $2.99 credit card processing fee."
  • Inside my tiny little mind I'm mumbling to myself, "Sure lady.  Go ahead.  Why not ask for another $100.00?  After all, I'm breathing the air in this room and that oughta cost me something."
  • So ~ $169.99, one revised check, one obliterated passport form and an original birth certificate later, I am a free 4-foot tall plastic bubble-headed man.  I'm outta there!  Do you think that it's over?

Hi-dee hi-dee sometimes-you-simply-have-to-laugh-at-the-absurdity-of-it-all-ho my friend.

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