Passports: Taking You Places You Never Wanted To Go

My life has been overshadowed by a gray cloud of anxiety for the last few weeks. But today I found relief, and wanted to tell you about it! You see, today I mailed in my passport renewal application.

I thought that this process was going to be easy. I thought had everything going for me:

  1. Old copy of passport: Check
  2. Certified copy of marriage license signifying name-change: Check
  3. Name-Change Renewal Application: Check
  4. Passport processing center: Check
  5. Passport photo: Check. Ha. The joke’s on me!

Trip 1:

I walked into the passport processing center with high hopes. My application was filled out, I had everything I needed, including the checkbook (I proudly remembered that they don’t accept Visa cards – who doesn’t accept Visa??).

After a twenty-five minute wait, I sauntered up to the counter, ready to go. My first question: “I have a photo here from just a two years ago. I still look the same, do you think I can still use it?” [Inside I was thinking “of course they’ll let me – I’m not a teenager growing out of my clothes every six months.]

The answer: “No. No, you can’t use it. It needs to be from within six months, even though you look identical, still own the same clothes, and still wear your hair the same way.” 

Internal reaction: “Okay fine, I can just pay the $15 and get a new photo taken today. No problem!”

But she wasn’t finished. To add insult to injury: “Actually, we can’t even process those kind of applications here.”

Internal reaction: “What?? You’re a passport processing center. What do you mean you can’t process this here?!”

All was not lost, however. I remembered that I live just a block from a Post Office, and as you all know, Post Offices take Passport photos! I decided to not get my photo taken, but just swing by the Post Office and take the picture and send it off in one fell swoop.

Trip 2:

A few days later, when I had the time, I stopped by my friendly neighborhood Post Office, eager to have my photo taken and get my application mailed off. But alas! It was not to be – again! I was told that this particular office did not take Passport photos. But there was one that did down on University Avenue, about 15 minutes from my workplace. And so I left: disappointed, but hopeful.

Trip 3:

Several days later, I made my way 20 minutes in the wrong direction from work (after leaving an hour early to make sure I made it in time) to the post office I had been told took Passport photos. I drove up to the rather suspicious-looking building, full of hope that I would finally be able to send in my waiting application.

As I walked through the front door, my eyes caught a hand-written sign saying, “No Passport processing today!” My heart skipped a beat. Really? It can’t be!! Maybe they just mean they can’t actually process the applications, or accept them. Maybe they’ll still take photos.

Nope. They couldn’t take the photo that day. Or the next. And it was too far out of my way to come back on Friday. I was deflated, but decided to swing all the way back up to the Passport “Processing” Center to have my picture taken, even though I couldn’t actually process the application there.

Trip 4:

I pulled up to the Passport Center. I walked up, cash in pocket, ready to wait 25 minutes for the picture. The sign on the door screamed at me: “Personal Checks, Money Orders, and Cashiers Checks ONLY”.

I turned around and drove away. Mad. I hadn’t brought my check book.

Trip 5:

I was determined that this was the trip to get it done. I had looked for more places that took Passport photos, finding Walgreens and CVS. And I just happened to know exactly where one was. Most Walgreens are a little shady around here, but this one was brand new, in a good neighborhood, so I was actually a little bit excited to go check it out.

So straight after work I headed up to get this picture taken, and ready to stop at the Post Office immediately after. I headed up to the counter, getting more and more excited as I saw the brand new photo kiosks, and signs for Passport photos everywhere.

After I waited for help, my serve, “I need a Passport photo,” was spiked right back at me with a “We won’t have the camera until Tuesday.”

I chuckled the whole drive home. What else was there to do?

Trip 6

And so, yesterday I knew that this trip was the one. It was going to happen, no matter what – even if I had to drive to six different pharmacies. But I didn’t have to! I found another Walgreens, and even though it took about 40 minutes. I now have two less-than-flattering 2″x 2″  photos of my face. Oh, the relief! And, it was cheaper than the self-declared Passport Processing Center.

The Grand Finale

So today, after making sure that I still had time to not expedite the process (this has taken me three weeks, after all!), I went into work late today so that I had time to drop my application at the Post Office with two-day shipping. It will arrive Thursday!

We have five weeks and three days until our trip, and the website says that they will be processing it in 2-4 weeks. I think we made it! Phew!

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