Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Bureaucracy With a Heart

Did I tell you we’ve been stationed with two embassies, and at the second, I worked as a Foreign Service Officer? I know how busy and how harried the diplomats are, and I know how beleaguered the consular offices are with requests for visas and tourists who have lost their passports. They see it every day.

I lost my passport. My bad. Totally on me. I can’t expect anyone to feel obligated to help me out, but fortunately, there are mechanisms in place to expedite. You have to pay extra, but it’s worth it when you have a trip booked.

I told you about our run to New Orleans to submit paperwork and my delight to learn I would have a new passport soon.

I told you about the phone call telling me they needed a RECENT photo, not the same one that was on my last (never used, bright shiny new never used) passport.

I’ve been on edge all day. I’m away this weekend on a religious retreat, and I wasn’t feeling very religious. I was feeling nervous. I wonder if my passport reached New Orleans, or did it fall somewhere between the cracks? I wonder if Fridays are even work days at the passport center? What if it doesn’t get there and I don’t even know?

A short time ago, I got a phone call, from the same bureaucrat who called me about the photo. She was just calling to tell me that the passport is ready and will go out expedited this afternoon. She knew I would be concerned, and just wanted me not to worry.

I almost cried in gratitude. Who thinks of compassion when dealing with a bureaucracy? It was pure grace.

In the lifetime of our nation, we have elected some real doozies in high public office. Presidents, Senators, Representatives, Governors – some real characters. I don’t worry too much when lunatics run for high office, I thank God we have a solid bureaucracy, rarely corrupted; a bureaucracy that keeps plugging along when things get crazy. And thank God for this one particular officer who had a heart to reassure me that my passport is on the way. God bless her mightily.

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October 16, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Character, Charity, Civility, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Faith, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Technical Issue | , | 2 Comments

My Passport and Donald Rumsfeld

It’s seven in the morning, I’ve fed the cat, made the coffee, fixed some cereal and taken care of first-thing-in-the-morning things so I can sit with my morning Lectionary readings, and as I start, the phone rings. It’s seven. In the morning. I figured it was an emergency grand-child babysit call, but the call is coming from New Orleans, an oh no. I know I need to answer it.

It’s the really nice lady who took care of me on Tuesday, and she says “We were putting together your new passport and we noticed you used the same photo you used on your last passport.”

“Why yes!” I said proudly, “when I had them taken, they gave me two, so I just used the second one.”

Big mistake. They needed a RECENT passport. My never-been-used-shiny-new passport was MONTHS ago and I need to get RECENT photos and send them immediately so they can compete the passport with the right photo.

I think about good old Donald Rumsfeld, with the things you know you know, the things you know you don’t know, the things you don’t know you know (love that one) and then – horrors – the things you don’t know you don’t know.

And then I head down first thing to UPS where the nice people took my photo and sent it off so that they will have it as soon as possible.

And . . . I am wondering what else is out there that I don’t know I don’t know.

October 15, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Counter-terrorism, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Paris, Quality of Life Issues, Technical Issue, Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Quick Trip to NOLA

passport

AdventureMan and I are planners. We are headed out on a great adventure, and the first thing I did was pull my shiny new passport out of it’s place, put it on my desk and work on other things. Actually, I was looking for something else when I pulled the passport out, and still had it in my hand as I searched for the wallet I couldn’t find, and as I was looking, I thought “this is stupid, I could put the passport down and lose it” so I took it back and put it back on the desk.

Then followed a morning of trying to figure out which bags would be the best combination for this trip, what to take as carry-ons, what to take for a handbag, what to use as baggage, what clothing, what needs washing, let’s go ahead and change the beds while we are doing laundry, and oh, my hair needs washing and at ten a.m. I realized I didn’t know where my passport was. It wasn’t on the desk. For six hours I hunted everyplace I had been, like, just how stupid to you have to be to lose your passport in your own home?

I spent another six hours the next day, and then last night made an appointment in New Orleans, the nearest passport agency, to get an emergency expedited replacement. I keep thinking that once we get the new passport, the old one is sure to show up, isn’t that the way things go? On the other hand, I can’t afford to count on finding it when I won’t be able to go on the trip if I don’t have a passport.

I’ve been beating myself up. I can’t believe this has happened to me, but every now and then, things like this happen to everyone. It’s not like death, or war, or famine, or those brave refugees just trying to find a safe place where no bullets are flying and no one is trying to tell them that the way they practice their religion is just not right. It’s a luxury, but one I need if we’re going to do this trip.

So instead of mocking me, or making me feel worse, AdventureMan reminds me that there is an Ethiopian restaurant in New Orleans, not too far from the passport agency, and we might as well laisser les bon temps rouler while we are in the fair city. We’ll get up really early, be on time for our appointment, have a nice lunch and a leisurely drive back to Pensacola. He always knows how to turn a negative into a positive.

And pretty cool that we can take a day trip to New Orleans, take care of business, have a nice lunch and be back home for dinner.

October 12, 2015 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Arts & Handicrafts, Bureaucracy, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Morocco, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment