It’s not like my existing passport had elapsed or I’d got married and changed my name. It should have been a walk in the park.
The website makes it look simple and easy. That alone should have sent alarm bells ringing. After all, it’s a Government website. It went swimmingly until I got a question regarding someone who had signed a form and a photograph for me TEN YEARS ago. Did I know the full name of my guarantor? No. Did we even know where said guarantor was these days to ask? No!
So, the post office told me to go to the website. When the website didn’t do what it was meant to do it referred me to their hotline. The hotline after punching in several dozen numbers and different options, referred me back to the website and not to a human who could actually answer my question. It was the perfect bureaucratic loop.
It was also Mercury Retrograde. I should have know better.
Fast forward three weeks to the start of this week. With the date for our departure to Malaysia getting closer, I knew I had to do something about my passport. I tried asking at the Post Office again for a RENEWAL form. Turns out they don’t have those type of forms, but a lovely lady who was thoughtful and kind despite the fact it was 5pm and the door was closed, and she probably just wanted to go home, told me just to fill in the standard form.
The problem with the standard form is – you don’t get the quick turn around which a renewal guarantees. So I took the form home, added it to the two existing ones I had. Tuesday I got jack of all the paperwork and logged back into the website to see if it could do what it said it could. Voila! The guarantor question was gone and I was able to proceed through.
I know that question was there – I was barred from the site enough times to remember it was most definitely there. Now I’m just happy it was gone. Dave says perhaps the lady I spoke to in the post office Monday afternoon, who was heading home to renew a passport via the website for a friend was struck down by the guarantor question and rang the office first thing in the morning to have it removed. And he says he can’t write fiction!
Wednesday, with printed form in hand, I went out to get my passport photos taken (hello – don’t they see you coming – good-bye $20.00 for four of the worst photos ever taken) Yes for the next ten years I will be able to travel looking like a suburban hitman mother with a nasty double chin. At least they don’t insult me and askme to smile. That alone made that part of the process bareable.
The lady in the post office (a different one to Monday) processed my application on the spot and come 10:30am yesterday… yes, you guessed it, the passport dilemma was over. Now to wait for the new one to arrive. Though the upside, I can justify buying the Lonely Planet guide and allowing myself to be just a little bit excited.