If I Only Had A Brain!

On one of my many quieter days of late, I decided to thumb through our filing cabinet to see what was getting a little stale, and maybe take some older files downstairs for storage. I happened across our Passport File and out of curiosity decided to check the “Expiry Date”.  Looked like they were going to expire this October and after telling Nat, we decided we should renew them for another 10 years. We have no travel plans  in the foreseeable future, but we should definitely renew them just in case. You never know, we still have a couple of months left on the Heart and Stroke Calendar Lottery and we could possibly still win $5,000 – $10,000. I’ve always been a positive thinker and stranger things have happened.

The renewal process was easy enough. You can now fill out the Renewal Forms online (http://www.ppt.gc.ca/info/), print out your completed form, sign it, get your two References and away you go. The Passport Office is now located at the Pen Centre, which provides plenty of parking, and the offices have plenty of staff to serve you.

After Nat’s golf game on Monday, we brushed our hair, pinched our cheeks and headed down to WalMart to have our Passport photos taken. We waited a few minutes for the photographer to return from her lunch, stood in front of the white screen (no smiling allowed) and we were done in less than five minutes. We all know the photos make you like you’re in a police line-up, but they’ll at least be tucked away in our Passports and not on display for all and sundry to see!

This morning we were waiting on our landscaper guy to come and give us another quote. Once he left, we decided we would ask our Pharmacist and a staff member to be our two references, after which we would drive into St. Catharines to complete the whole process at the Passport Office. Our Landscaper was a little late in arriving, but we were still able to explain what we wanted done for the back walkway and allow him to measure up for a quote. This is going to be our Spring project, with the front walkway being done this October. (Can’t wait – as we think it’s really going to look great.)

With the landscaping sorted out, we hopped in the car, had Donnie (our Pharmacist) and a staff member complete the Reference portions, hopped back in the car and drove the 35 minutes into St. Catharines. The new Passport Office is certainly easier to get to as compared to its old location in downtown St. Catharines. With my file in hand we stepped up to the first teller, handed her our file with a smile and explained we wanted two renewals.

Well. The teller opens our Passports and promptly tells us “You know you have another year to go for renewal, don’t you?” (Internal brain saying to itself: “what the hell is your problem, Twila?). I looked at Nat and shook my head as I apologized for my goof. I explained that when I checked the passports I seriously thought this was 2014, and gave a stupid little laugh. I added that my memory isn’t what it used to be, but she’s not laughing!! The Teller then asks if we want to wait until October 2014 arrives or, still proceed with the renewal. After mulling it over, I said to Nat that since we’re here why not just go ahead – what the hell, so we lose a year. It’s not like we’re going anywhere. He agreed. The Teller then pushed out our “line-up” number and told us to have a seat in the lounge area and wait for our number to come up.

Now this is where I get a little perplexed – there is no one else in the whole entire Passport Office waiting to be served!!! Seriously!! She couldn’t just tell us to proceed to the next window for completion of this whole matter?? Nope! We had to walk those 20 or so paces to the lounge area, have a seat for all of 10 seconds for when our number pops up on the illuminated box wired to the wall.

We proceed to Window No. 4, as directed. I, again, hand over my file. The new Teller looks at our Passports, looks at us, and with no humour at all, repeats those infamous words “You know you have more than a year left before renewal, don’t you?”Yes”, we replied, “but since we’re here we thought we would still proceed”. She then asks us “Why“. I, again, replied, “It was a stupid mistake on my part mixing up the years, but since we’re here, we thought we would still proceed”.  She then stares at us like a couple of idiots and says “Well, if you decide to go ahead then the Government needs to know “Why”  I’m now looking at Nat and thinking this is going to get complicated and not worth the effort. We both agreed to leave the whole affair and return next year. Whereupon we told little Miss Prissy to forget it, gathered up my file (which was now all asunder) and left the building. We hope that when we return a year from now that these two ladies who have no gift of laughter at all, will be gone by then!!

Yes, the whole affair was stupid on my part – but at least I was honest about it. Yes, I felt silly, but anyone should be able to see the humour in the whole affair. I’m now thinking that human relations and being personable are not a part of any Federal employee’s training. You’d think that sitting in those high stools all day long, doing the same work day in and day out would get a little boring and the staff would look for a bit of a stupid mistake now and then to at least break up their day?? If Stephen Harper has any sense of humour you won’t see it in public and I guess that’s the way he wants the rest of his Federal employees to act. A shame, really. You live longer if you laugh!!