After years of listening to Dave Page, Magnus Hagander, Josh Berkus, David Fetter, Stefan Kaltenbrunner, Ads, Gabrielle, JPA and numerous other contributors that I should mention but won't. I have finally submitted to get a passport. Well at least the application is filed. So let's tell a story about acquiring a passport in the United States. Generally speaking it doesn't seem to bad. I needed my birth certificate and my drivers license. I had to fill out a longish form but they have it in PDF Form format so I got to do it on the computer and print it. Less pen and paper, good. They had to take a copy of my drivers license because they wanted to prove my signature was actually my signature (people who have seen my signature will understand). All of this was reasonable and I was quite pleased with how smoothly it went.
Of course, we can't have all good news. So let's run down the bad. You need to know when your father was born. I don't know and I don't care. You need to know where your father was born. I don't know and I don't care. You also need to know the same for your mother, I do know but I still don't care. I was lucky, at least the state of birth for both of my parents was on my birth certificate. I had to guess the year my father was born.
I had to give a reason why I am traveling out of the country and when. It is none of the United States Government's business when or why I plan to travel except that I am. They will know when I go through the airport and they stamp my passport. Otherwise, I claim right to privacy. I just put I was leaving in July. I can always hop a plane to Japan if I get bored. I am sure Tatsuo would love to have dinner. He is a great guy. Oh well I can live with this. It isn't like they are taking DNA... yet.
The last straw was when it came to payment. I do not carry cash, ever. I do not carry checks, ever. It is 2009, not 1989. Let us please get a clue. Worse apparently the Department of State doesn't take cash, so even a trip to the ATM does me no good. So I can do a cashier's check or a money order. A money order? I didn't even know those were still used. I read about them once in history class. I take my cold, irritated, JD carcass down to Bank of America.
Anyone who has done any real business with Bank of America knows that they are the Bank of Stupid. Command Prompt once had an account with them to supposedly help facilitate the paying of our Canadian employees. That was the biggest mistake we ever made. The act of facilitating in the Bank of America dictionary means, "the practice of being constipated". I walked into Bank of America with cold, hard America cash to purchase a Cashiers Check. Bank of America will not give you a cashiers check (even if you have cash) if you are not an account holder. What?
After a brief and obvious sign of astonishment the nice bank lady leaned over, whispered and said, "The post office has money orders, I would go there." Thank you nice bank lady.
I walk to the Post Office. There was no line. No I am not kidding. I asked for a money order. They asked how much. I said 75.00. They said there will be a 1.65 (might have been 1.95) fee. I said o.k. They printed it, gave me my change and I walked out. Wait, what? That's right. The most efficient entity in this whole process was the Post Office. I started with being completely frustrated by the U.S. Government and in the end, was completely satisfied by the U.S. Government. Whatever.
After a long walk up a hill, I re-entered the passport office. I handed them the money plus a 25.00 fee, in cash. Yes, that's right. I can pay one fee in cash but not another. I received my receipt and left, happy.
So what does this all mean? It means that in theory, about six weeks from now I will be free to terrorize Europe. When is the next ITPUG meeting?