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Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Passport Debacle

Well, we leave tomorrow for our vacation cruise to Mexico. Bags aren't pack yet, but the laundry is going strong and snacks are ready for the long car ride.

Since we're sailing to Mexico instead of flying, passports are not required. A certified birth certificate and driver's license is sufficient. However, in the interest of caution, Greg and I got our passports and we asked the kids to do the same. Our thought is that if something happens and we get stuck in Mexico, the only way we can fly home is to have a passport.

There was lots of checking with the kids and sighing and reminding and nagging...

On Thanksgiving Day, Nick produced his little blue book. Yea! Now I only had one kid to nag. And she hates nagging!

Turns out, she had applied at the Grand Forks, ND post office on November 14. She paid an extra $75 to have the passport expidited. Then the wait began.

As of November 28, it still hadn't arrived. We're getting a little nervous because you have to send your birth certificate with your application. Smart girl that she is, Jess sent for another copy of her birth certificate, but she had it mailed to North Dakota instead of to our house. Fingers crossed that one or the other or both arrived in her mailbox before she had to leave yesterday.

Finally, she checked her mail on Wednesday morning and the birth certificate was there, but the passport still was not. I called the Department of State and spoke to an extremely helpful and polite customer service rep named Renee. She checked quite thoroughly, but Jessi's application was not in the system.

I called Jess, and she had just gotten off the phone with her bank. Her check for her passport had never been cashed. She was on her way to the Post Office where she'd applied.

The Post Office told her they had no record of her application, but they would do some checking and call her. She reminded them that her birth certificate was in that envelope. They assured her they knew that...

About an hour later she got the call telling her they found the application and SHE COULD COME PICK IT UP.



When she got there, she told them that she was leaving for Mexico the next week, and had really needed this passport.

They said, "Sorry."
That was it.
No apology.
No explanation.

When we get home we will contact the appropriate supervisors and this will be reported. My Post Office lady was appalled when I told her the story and said that if they'd followed protocol, this never would have happened.
Anyway, now she has two copies of her birth certificate. I think she's covered. She just can't get stuck in Mexico...

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