So today my Mom had to go to the Post Office to submit her application for a passport for a once-of-a-lifetime trip that she’s getting to take this winter. She’s known about it for quite a while but as seems to be the habit around here, we have procrastinated until today. Even so, things got a little bit hairy when it came time to actually go to the Post Office to do it.
Now, you’d think that you could just go into any post office and say, “I’d like a Passport, here’s my filled-out application, birth certificate and identification.” However, that’s where we come to the first tip.
Make an appointment with your Post Office before you leave for there. Sure, we had checked at one point in time in the past to see when and where applications were being accepted. However, the Post Office that we were planning on going to was kinda far from where we were this morning. We had to head down to an appliance store to pick up our new microwave which works beautifully and that we only paid less than $40 for. The store’s about 20 miles to the south, and the Post Office that we were planning on going to is about 10 miles to the east of me, so I thought why not try to see if the Post Offices between the store and home had passport facilities.
The first step in this is finding the information about the Post Office, so I called the toll-free number for the Post Office and they had the option of “Passport Information” which I selected. Bad move. That was just telling me about how to go about applying at the Post Office, including the fact that you need two checks – one for the State Department and one for the Postmaster. I finally get back to the main menu and get to the post office information. Thankfully, I have a really good memory of Zip codes, especially the ones over like the whole of the region, so I didn’t have to fight with the voice recognition software with the name of the town that we were in at the time.
I finally get the address and number – they are on the street that we had just turned onto, but I still called ahead to see if they did Passports, but it turns out that they don’t. However, she was very polite and gave me about three or four other offices that did offer passport service, but not for the one that we had originally wanted to go to. So, I figure that we may as well check into the office that we wanted to start with. I get the number, and call them; the lady who answered the phone basically said that they did passports, but were full up for today; however they would be there Monday from 10-3. So, I ask if there are any other locations that could do it – she offers up the suggestion of going to, and I quote “ww dot state dot gov”. I wanted to say to her that uh, I’m on a mobile phone now and can’t get to the web why do you think I asked about other locations. So I haggled for a few more seconds, and said thank you and hung up.
At this point, I pretty much gave up and decided to call for the number of a post office that was kinda far away, but not really since we know the way there. It’s just the trip that’s long. So, I call them and the lady who answered (another friendly person) said that she’d check, and it turned out that they had a slot between 1:30 and 2 pm, and I said, that’ll work; gave them the last name, and was quite happy. The only catch was that it was 11:30. No worries though, we had to take the microwave home and stop at the store to take money out of the ATM (the bank we use charges something like $3 for using another bank’s ATM on top of any fees that they might charge).
So, it comes time to go down there, and I think – I better take something along to keep me amused because this might be a while, and that’s what I did. However, this does bring me to another common-sense tip –
Fill out your application in advance
Since my mom had actually filled out the application, the process was really quick. I figured that it would take 20-30 minutes, but I think it lasted only about 10-15 minutes, all thanks to having the paperwork in order (bad photo included) ahead of time.
So, now it’s only a matter of up to 4 months (though I’ve heard that they’re really being delayed) and the passport will be delivered by Priority Mail, provided that she’s approved. Somehow I don’t see that not happening considering the biggest legal trouble she’s ever been in is for going through a red light on a freeway on-ramp about 4 years ago (it was green when we went for it, and we got caught by an unmarked squad car).
And to add some irony, we decided to take a different route to the usual on the way back and wound up (thanks to a jackass going slow and turning on the road we wanted to go on) going through the outskirts of the city we were going to go to originally. We also managed to see this interesting piece of sculpture –