Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Expectations exceeded

I once planned a trip to Italy with my husband two weeks prior to leaving. I'm all about instant gratification. It's hard for me to plan something that cool, and then have to wait for it. I'm the same way with cutting my hair. I wait until I just can't stand it anymore, then have to rush out and cut it all off. I'm sure if I planned ahead, I wouldn't ever get to the point where I need it gone (or need ME gone!) right away. But planning is part of the prerequisite when having a baby. I realized this when, in early October, I thought - I need to get G a passport for our trip to Europe. In June. Now, some credit to me for thinking ahead and knowing how slow our government can be with things like passports. I've stood in many a government line, whether for a passport or a drivers license, where it seems paint dried faster than my number came up. I expected it might take until May to get the passport, so I'd better start now. Especially with all the new restrictions on travel. So, I pat myself on the back for planning so early.

I took the entire day off when we needed to go get his passport. I knew how long it could take. I planned ahead, and packed a bag full of toys, books, and snacks just in case he got anxious waiting (and I was anxious just thinking about it!) Especially the part about trying to get a one year old to sit for a picture. The good news is they now accept passport applications at post offices, and this new thing called the Internet allows you to download the forms you need prior to showing up. I made an appointment and filled out the paperwork. Now we just had to show up and wait in line. We got there.....and it was empty. Wait, what's going on? Where's the big long line? They greeted us cheerfully, and were excited to take G's picture. (Probably a nice change from the snooty folks they get in there that don't have time to smile for a picture, let alone say please and thank you). Although it took about 15 minutes to get him to actually look at the camera when they snapped away, we finally ended up with a pretty good (and pretty cute) picture of my future traveler. I handed them the paperwork, they checked our documents, took our money, and said thank you. I was astonished. We were out of there in less than 20 minutes. Never in my life has something that involved government employees taken less than 20 minutes. I've been on hold longer than that with the IRS. My husband and I looked at each other dumbfounded. We didn't even have to pull out the toy or snack reserves. Hooray!

We thought we had hit the jackpot, but we never expected it to be so big. When I checked the mail a mere 10 days later and found a packet from the government, I almost fell over right there. His passport had arrived. We had expected it to take months, not days. Our shock, and excitement, couldn't be contained, and we told everyone we knew that they could go out and get a passport within a month. Amazing!! Normally you'd have to pay at least ten times the price to get it rushed, which meant a few weeks (which, sadly we have done before, remember how bad we were at planning trips in advance?).

It wasn't until our glee wore down, and we started planning another even earlier trip to Mexico since we COULD, that we thought about why we got it so quickly. Of course it didn't take long. When I applied for my first passport I was 26 years old. They had 26, well OK, maybe 16, years of "stuff" to look through to make sure I was legitimate, hadn't killed anyone, defrauded anyone, or faked my own birth. But this time, they only had 14 months to think through. And maybe, just maybe, he might be the most devious 14 month old ever trying to get a passport, but part of me thinks the background check might be a little smoother when you don't have much background to check. Although, they probably didn't look too deeply to see that G is responsible for many things going missing, and property damage worth quite a bit. But I think I won't press charges, if only to keep his record clean, and his involvement with the government to a minimum.

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