Thursday, June 21, 2007

Oh, Canada

You ever hear that voice inside your head that tells you not to do something but you do it anyway? And then when you do it you realize, “Oh boy, I am an idiot”?

I am definitely an idiot today.

Sean and I wanted to take Rebecca to Vancouver to see my aunt, uncle, cousin and new cousin-in-law during the week Michael and Amy are at Boot Camp. I know this will be a hard time for her so we thought if we had a fun thing for her to do she might not miss them too much.

I’d been shopping flights for weeks, hoping the cost would go down; it is incredibly expensive to fly straight into Vancouver. I’d toyed with the idea of flying into Seattle and driving the two hours up to Canada, but didn’t want to waste that time in the car when we could be with our extended family.

Finally last week I found a decent price out of Flint to Vancouver and clicked “Buy.” There was still something in me saying, “Don’t do it!” but I didn’t listen.

That something is quite clear to me now: flying internationally, even if just to our northern neighbor requires a passport. (It’s starting to sink in now, isn’t it?) Rebecca doesn’t have a passport.

We applied for her passport on April 9, and the postmaster told us it was taking between eight to ten weeks for a passport to be processed. That was a week before the massive “We’re so overloaded with passport requests that you’ll have to wait at least 12 weeks before receiving one” line came out of the State Department. We thought we were in the clear.

It has been ten weeks, three days; we have no passport for our third-born. And I completely forgot about that when I bought those tickets.

I spoke with a National Passport Center representative last Friday who was quite compassionate and said, “No problem. You’ll be able to see her application on-line by Monday. You can print that out and use it as proof of application. If you’re only going to Canada this will be enough, along with her birth certificate.”

As it is now Thursday I’m sure you can surmise that her application was not on-line Monday. I called again today and after being on hold 40 minutes was told by a not-nearly-as-nice rep that, “You didn’t put her social security number on her application so you’ll never see it on the web.” Um, how exactly do you fill out a passport application without a SS #? And anyway, Sean filled hers out so I KNOW it was done correctly. Engineers do not leave blanks blank.

I calmly asked the rep if there was anyone else I could speak with, or if it might be helpful for me to call my Congressman. He said, not kindly at all, “Lady, do you not understand what I’m telling you? Nothing will help you.” Then he hung up on me.

I should have asked him if it would be okay if I just tunneled into Canada; seems to be working okay for the Mexicans.