I went to the Consulate last week, after having waited nearly three weeks for the first available appointment in their busy schedule.
Naturally, by the time I got to the building, I was already at a ‘level orange’ as far as annoyance goes. It started with the absurdity of the new bureaucratic process. Coupled with the $3.25 per thirty minutes I had to pay for parking. Plus the ‘airport security’ screening I endured before being allowed on the elevator. And the airport-grade security check I endured after getting off said elevator. Plus the $5 I had to pay for the privilege of storing my KEYS at the ground floor copy and passport photo shop.
Did you know remote-entry car keys are forbidden at the Consulate? Well, they are. And cell phones. And lip gloss. And bags or purses of any kind.
By the time I was finally allowed to walk inside the office for my actual appointment, I had steam coming out of my ears. Dry steam, of course. Because the regular kind of steam is probably on the verboten list as well.
As I stood there waiting for my ‘customer service representative’, I thought of all the awesome scathing things I could write about the experience. Except, in this post 9-11 era, I knew I wouldn’t write any of them. For fear of losing my passport over the matter.
A week later I got my passport. In the mail. Without having forked over another $60 to ‘expedite’ things. The government had taken care of me, after all. And for only $110. Give or take.
Thank goodness renewal time only comes around once a decade. A point the professor underscored when he looked at my new (slightly dazed and irritable looking) picture and remarked: ‘next time I’m guessing the hair won’t be quite so brown.’
I can only imagine.