It began several days ago with the need to fast track our young adult kids passport renewals. Well, not all of them, just the one who will be traveling to the US as a last minute addition to a soccer team in need of a strong player.
I called the 1-800 number to find out options for fast tracking her application. I was told certain things. Not all of them turned out to be true, but that’s not the funny part of the story. Here goes…
We went out and got passport photos taken at Costco. The cheapest solution by far. (then our friends told us how their daughter got rejected for a bad photo and I began to ride the worry train thinking maybe our cheap photos would result in our rejection too!)
Not familiar with long forms, our youngest convinced Daddy to help her. He sat at the kitchen counter for an hour, intent on gathering all the appropriate information required to complete the form. He did not have much patience for my delayed responses to his questions. Still, he was doing the work and I was grateful.
Tag team… I arrived at Passport Canada first thing on Tuesday morning with forms, old passports, ID and a good dose of caffeine under my belt. The line was short. I smiled as I approached the counter, a firm believer in first impressions garnering positive results. I wasn’t disappointed, the clerk was friendly and smiling when she told me I didn’t have the secondary pieces of ID required for the application to proceed. Drat! I immediately blamed Daddy who was supposed to have crossed all the ‘t’s’ prior to sending me out for part 2 of the mission. There were some additional items required on my son’s application as well, so all the ‘t’s’ were NOT crossed!
Off I went, but not before texting our youngest to see if she had the secondary ID on her person. She reminded me I had it in my wallet. So, I smiled, pulled it out, and returned to the Passport Canada Office with a renewed sense of accomplishment. I lined up again. When I got to the window I smiled and showed the ID with my signature on the back (obviously when my daughter got her Care Card she was a baby and didn’t have a signature yet.)
“Sorry”, said the clerk, “you must have her signature on it, not yours.”
“But it’s in pen,” I said.
“Then you will have to try to remove your signature and get her to sign it,” she said.
“But what if it doesn’t come off,” I said.
“Then you will have to apply for a new care card,” she said.
“But how can I do that when the timeline is so short to begin with and my daughter needs to renew her passport right away?” I asked. “Can’t you make a concession?” “I mean you have her old passport and her birth certificate.”
“Sorry,” she said, “we need two pieces of signed ID, so her driver’s license, care card, or another piece of government issued ID are required. Her birth certificate is not signed!”
“But she doesn’t have a driver’s license yet, she just turned 16 today,” I said.
“Sorry,” she said. “We need 2 pieces of signed government issued ID.”
Now that was completely clear. What I needed. What I didn’t have. What my husband didn’t tell me I needed. What my daughter needed in order to get the passport that she also needed!
After I picked up my daughter from school, I got out the care card and began trying to rub off the pen. It didn’t rub off. It didn’t come off with cleanser. It didn’t come off with toothpaste. No worries, I thought, I will use some nail polish remover. It worked! The pen came off. So did the white strip across the back of the care card. Oh no! Now they are going to think I’m tampering with government issued ID, I thought. Still, I had my daughter sign the back of the card with indelible pen and that was that.
My son completed the missing pieces of information on his application, then offered me his boating license as his second piece of signed government issued ID. But what about your driver’s license, I asked him? It’s a way different signature, he said… and it was.
I shared all this with my husband early this morning while we were brushing our teeth and getting ready for the day etc. And he laughed at me. He called me ‘funny’. I told him I was going to blow a gasket but there were all sorts of signs posted about keeping the environment professional and not raising voices. I told him I would probably just curl up on the floor and cry if things didn’t go well. He laughed again and called me ‘really funny’. Maybe I am… his FUNNY GIRL!!!
This morning I returned to the Passport Canada Office with dragging feet. I anticipated not having what I needed. I anticipated having the tampered with piece of ID rejected and me possibly reprimanded to custody. I anticipated being given a strange look when I passed the boating license across the counter. I wondered if they have a little back room to hold people like me. I felt guilty. I felt unprepared. I was wrong.
The office was empty.* I went to the front of the line and passed through preliminary inspection. I sat in a seat and waited to see a government agent. The agent called me up and proceeded to walk me through the process, checked the SIGNED government issued ID in both cases and… we passed!!!!
$320 later and I was smiling again with the knowledge that opting for 10 year passports would mean I wouldn’t have to go through this process for a very, very long time. Soon a new passport will arrive in the mail for our son, and a passport for my daughter will await my pick up at the Passport Canada Office in several days time. That is, if I have my daughter fill out the appropriate line on the receipt document and SIGN her approval for me to pick it up. 2 days before she leaves for the USA.
“Don’t be surprised if your sons doesn’t arrive in the mail first,” the clerk said.
“Nothing surprises me,” I said. “Nothing.”
*note: if you live in Kelowna and have need of a passport renewal, arriving at Passport Canada between 8 and 10 am is deads-ville. Apparently this is a local culture. Every other office in Canada has a lineup at opening. Ah Kelowna, I love you!
**note 2: the photo at the top is of said daughter at her Sweet 16 paintball party, and does not indicate in any way that the thought of guns or any other form of similar device entered my mind at any time during the proceedings described above. And absolutely no animals were hurt in the writing of this blog post.