Monday, October 31, 2011

common sense deployed elsewhere

Ever the slackers and disorganized fools, we realized when we went to the McHoul wedding that our passports were going to expire in about two weeks.  We were actually really grateful to have decided to go to the wedding or we would have learned about the expiration after it took place. That would have been an ugly and embarrassing discovery made at the PAP airport or possibly revealed in Miami, as we were being cuffed and detained.  Blame would have been placed, insults hurled, feelings hurt.  'Whose responsibility IS THIS?' we would ask one another.   

(For those keeping track - for sure this is Troy's department. Just sayin.)

Expired passports seem like a bad idea ... And so, our day began at the U.S. Embassy.  

The movies and television frequently lead the American viewer to believe that an Embassy is a place of refuge.  If you watch enough high-action programming, you might believe Americans abroad only need to get to their embassy and everything will be okay.  The embassy is a beacon of truth and justice in this dark world. The embassy stands ready to assist in any manner. The embassy is your friend.  With bombs going off behind you, just run for your embassy, they'll fling the doors open for you.


In our dealings with our embassy we've learned that they don't actually want to have to interact with us if at all possible.   The manner in which most (not all) employees conduct business is unfriendly, bordering on rude. After we got everything turned over to renew our passports they informed us that the passports would be delivered to our house.  We have a friend that attempted to go that route with his renewal and as far as we know he is still in search of his passport.  Troy said, "No. I don't want it delivered.  If it is coming here to the embassy anyway, I live nearby - I'll come pick it up."  

It is, after all, a fairly important document, one we'd like in our hands as soon as possible, so why not cut out the middle man?  Makes sense to us. Troy was informed that he is required to hire the messenger service because the Embassy doesn't want him to have a reason to come back into the building.  They (the American Citizens Service unit) are "reducing their traffic". (As it turns out, they are ALSO increasing our chances of not having our passports.) Listening to the bureaucratic-speak about where our documents would be "deployed" was slightly aggravating, mostly because of the lack of common sense.

After watching the inner workings of government ineptitude while adopting Phoebe post-earthquake, we recognize that most everything they do because of "policy" or "procedure" is code for "charging you money to keep our lives easy and yours annoying and inconvenient".

The passports take 7 to 10 days to come back but the messenger service says we'll have them in 30 days.  I'm the first to admit I am no math wizard but something tells me there is a bit of a problem with that. It is almost as if 20 days are in between the passport arriving and the passport being handed (in theory) to us.  Call me a skeptic; call me a jerk, but I'm not super thrilled with my passport being in an undisclosed ambiguous location for three weeks.  I'd rather just have it in my hands.  I guess you could say it's my policy.  Ahem.