Monday, July 13, 2009

Bureaucracy times a million

So my USA passport is full. No big deal I'll just get some extra pages added. According to the official passport website I can do this up to three times and best of all it's a free service.

Problem #1 Regular service to do anything with a passport via mail is running out to 6 weeks. This is not going to work. Expedited service cost $60 and even this is not going to be fast enough.
Problem #2 All appointments at the Miami Passport office are booked out in excess of 2 weeks.
Catch 22 you have to have a flight in less than 2 weeks before you can schedule an appointment at the Passport office.
Call and call again: After a zillon calls and battle with a automated scheduling robot I get an appointment. Great it's almost too good to be true. Cause it was! I show up at the Miami office after a 1 hour drive and they say my appointment number is not valid. Opps the automated system scheduled me for an appointement in Seattle when I was in Miami.
Too late to do anthing else: We fly back to Honduras. I have to beg the immigration officers to stamp over and between other stamps in my passport. This baby is FULL. Then we go to Guatemala and then Honduras again. Now we are way beyond FULL.
Back in Miami 3 weeks later: We crush the automated scheduling system in to submission and obtain an appointment.
Show up at 8:30 for 9:00 Appt: Stand in line to get on elevator, stand in line to get through security, stand in line to make sure I'm allowed to be there. Take a number.
Now Serving number A081 at window 10: I get to the window and plead my case for some blank pages. Humm this takes three days. But, I don't have any pages left and I don't have three days. The country I'm flying to in under a Military Coup and and and... yeah whatever. I'll check with my supervisor.
OK that's $60 to expedite: What? $60 it's suposed to be free as in zero dollars. Umm $60 and I'll check with my supervisor to see if I can get a signature to get this done later today.
No cash check or charge: I'm screwed as I didn't bring any money or cards with me.
Umm can I borrow $60: I ask a guy in line next to me if I can borrow $60 I'll pay you right back...
Major karma at play here: He loans me the money!!!
Ok, Sir come back at 2PM: Come back in basicly 4 hours as that's how long it will take for us lame asses to do ablsoultley noting but stick some blank pages in your passport.
Back at 1:45: Wait in lines as mentioned before.
5:45 PM my name is called: Holy crap! It's now 4 hours AFTER my scheduled appointment and I finaly get my passport EXPEDITD that is for an extra $60!!!! This is major BS.
And this is the short verison of this story.
24 more pages to fill: I figure 3 years max and I'll be back in line.

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