I am leaving for Mexico in a week-and-a-half. Trying to be organized, I decided to haul out my suitcase and begin sorting out things I’d need for the trip. Admirable, no? Getting a jump on things so there would be no last-minute rush or stress. Ha!
I should have known no good deed goes unpunished. I went to get my passport in the drawer where I always keep it. Without fail. For the past 28 years. It wasn’t there! I went into full-on panic mode.
I told myself to be calm. Go online, I told myself. (I’ll be modern, think like a techie, with-it person). Naturally, it didn’t work. I tried to download Bureaucratic CRAP form # 456…to explain how and where I lost my passport. (My friend pointed out that, if I knew that, it wouldn’t be LOST!) Naturally, my Adobe Reader was out of date. Quell surprise! They offered instructions to update…are you kidding me? I’ve just spent three hours searching my house from top to bottom looking for my delinquent passport, am stressed so badly my stomach is in open rebellion, and they expect me, an idiot with computers, to do that???
In the end, I appealed to The Man In My Life’s chivalrous nature –realizing I’d look like a fool on two fronts: losing the passport and not knowing how to install the update without breaking my computer (either by error involving my lack of knowledge or by smashing the thing with a large bat in frustration) and asked him to print the form for me on his computer. He did me one better: sent it to me in a form I could print!
The best was yet to come. I then spent two hours filling out this form and new passport application.
It asked me:”Are you applying using the name of your spouse?” Hmm…how to answer…technically, yes, since I didn’t change my name after the divorce. But, really? I’ve been on my own, using this name (including for numerous passports) for nearly 30 years! The instructions alone for the passport application take up three pages and are, in my defense , confusing.
I panicked when I saw the note about ‘if you are applying for a passport using the surname of your spouse, provide a marriage certificate and, if the relationship has ended, a divorce decree’. I have neither. Would they accept fading wedding photos instead? Napkins from the reception? My old blue garter? THOSE I have. And as for the divorce decree, I was so happy to receive it, I fear my flowing tears may have washed out the print. It was only later that it became clear that this requirement was for ‘newish’ citizens and recently divorced people. Whew!
I drove to the local Shoppers’ Drugmart (apparently this has replaced a real photographer’s studio as the passport photo shop of choice for suburbanites) in the midst of a small blizzard to get it done before the holiday when everything closed. I did not have two days to spare. Coincidentally, it was the ugliest picture I’ve ever had taken of myself…and believe me, at this age, there are many contenders.
Trying an approach I have used before when needing a government document in a hurry, I phoned the local MP’s office and, since it was a Saturday, all they could offer was that I leave a message and ‘we’ll call you after the holiday’.
Back to the computer to Google ‘how to get a passport fast’. It seemed the best option was to present my germ-ridden(annoying cold) body at the local Passport Office with all the completed forms and certificates.
The crack of dawn on Jan.2 saw me at the government office courtesy of a drive from My Man. Since he is also ‘my guarantor’, I figured he should be present in case I had to redo the application and again needed him to vouch for the fact that I’m not a serial killer, wacko, or carrying out some nefarious plan. (I’m not sure he was really okay with the wacko part, but he seemed willing.)
Walking up to the clerk, I felt moderately(well, somewhat) confident. Foolish hope quickly dashed. The clerk took one look at my birth certificate copy and announced:”Sorry. This won’t do. It has to be the original.”
“You’re kidding me”, I managed, defeated.I thought to myself that I was born so long ago that they may not have records going back that far! Plus, I was from out-of-province. That meant I would have to go online to request the original birth certificate…and pay extra for the privilege of getting it and having it sent by courier.
And so, here I sit, precious days before I’m due to leave for Mexico, passport-less and health travel insurance-less. That too was a debacle. The clerk at CAA caught me unprepared when she asked if I have various medical issues — including cancer.
“No cancer, but I was treated recently for a small PRE-cancerous spot on my face.”
The clerk grilled me:”What KIND of cancer” Basal cell? Squamish cell?”
“I don’t know. It wasn’t actually cancer. It was, as stated before, PRE-cancerous.”
“Doesn’t matter,” she said. “I have to know…it will change the rates we charge you.”
Of course it will. I feel confident that, whatever my answer, I will be charged more. Insurance is just like that. Seeing my discomfort (I was about to go ballistic with frustration), she kindly offered to call the doctor’s office. Nobody there. Closed for another week for the holidays.Typical.
I was beginning to think, after all this bureaucracy run amok, that SOMEONE doesn’t want me to go to Mexico. But I AM going…if I didn’t need a vacation before, I sure do now after all this stress. I may have to double-up on the lovely, restorative massages there –just to get me back to my normal super-stressed me.