30 June 2007

build it and they will come

Our passports were supposed to come on Wednesday by Priority Mail, "Oh, Yes, yes, don't worry they will be there." Despite the fact that I waited at the door all day long they did not come.

On Thursday, thinking that a watched pot never boils, I decided to go out and perform a little good old american capitalist voodoo. In other words, alter my future through consumption. I bought this lovely lovely passport case that, not only holds a passport but also my driver's license, credit cards, plane ticket, and space to stash extra american cash that I don't want to flash to the world. How could this not work? Surely upon returning home, the passports would be there.

They were not. Maybe Field of Dreams is not the best source of information for american capitalist voodoo. Maybe I needed something else.

So, Friday morning we got up bright and early to brave the big bad passport office. Our appointment was at 8:00 we decided to arrive at 7:15. What we saw upon arriving really merits a picture. I in fact took several to document our little oddessy through the passport office, unfortunately my phone is dumb and will not send me the photos. Alas, a written account will have to suffice.

There were really at least 500 people standing outside. Bad Omen #1. As they were all going about the business of orderly queueing up we joined them as quickly as possible. There was a 7:30 appointment line and an 8:00 or later appointment line. Some people were not so orderly and had a less highly developled queueing instinct. They just fit in wherever they saw a spot. Some people got very mad and started yelling. Luckily there was no fighting. This was clearly not an Organized Event.

We waited and we waited and we waited in our "8:00 and later" line, making friends with everyone near us in line. Everyone was desperate for their passports and had their own little hilarious story of bureaucratic ineptiude.

At 8:00 they started taking people from the 7:30 line. I pulled out my knitting and began to knit an octopus. This is hard for other people to believe. "A what?" "An octopus." "A what?" "An octopus." "A What?" "An Octopus." "Ummm, we're just trying to figure out if you are kidding."

At 9:00 they were still taking people from the 7:30 line. At 10:00 they were still taking people from the 7:30 line. We began to be very thankful we didn't have an appointment that was any later than 8:00.

At 10:45 we got to go inside to Line #2. This is where we tell the people we have an appointment and get a number for Line #3 upstairs. On our way upstairs, we met someone in the elevator who told us she had spent 12 hours here the day before. Bad Omen #232.

Our number was A3428. When we got upstairs they were on number A3319. Bad Omen #346. We plopped ourselves down on the floor (all the chairs being taken) and got ready for a long wait. I pulled out my knitting and we were quickly befriended by some Tibetan, I mean Chinese, girls ages 4,6, and 9. "What are you knitting?" "An octopus." "A what?" "An octopus." "A what?" "An octopus?" "Really! Will it have eyes and everything?!" They were hilarious and made the time pass quickly. It is lucky that I work with kids this age all day long and have been in a little withdrawal period for the past few weeks because otherwise they may not have been so hilarious. I taught them how to knit, how to make a paper airplane (I'm not sure other people were happy with me for this distraction), we sang some songs, and they decided we were their new best friends. They tried to give me their phone number. I replied by saying, "you really need to ask your mom before you can give your phone number to people." They asked her and she said yes (I'm not sure she really understood what they were asking).

Did I mention that our breakfast was chocolate donuts and coffee and that absolutely NO food or drink were allowed inside, we were a bit dizzy.

At 2:25 our number was up, we tiptoed past the people sleeping on the floor as they waited, and we applied for our passports. The suprisingly nice passport man told us our passports would be ready at 3:45, or "maybe a few minutes later due to the volume of people who were waiting today." As opposed to another day? I get the impression every day is like this. Of course they close the doors at 3:45 so we would have to wait inside for the passports. Bad Omen # 511? The office stays open INSIDE until 8:00PM.

Oh yes, James had class on Friday, from 9 until 5. We were going to pop into the passport office for our appointment and then he would run off to class and I would run off to the yarn store. So at 2:50 we run to NYU to tell his professor that, no, he will not be coming to this last day of class, and then run back to the passport office.

At 3:45, the time we are to pick up our passports, they begin calling people whose passports were supposed to be ready at 3:00. By this point there were no more bad omens left, we just sort of expected it. So, we hunkered down, by this point I was on the first tentancle, and got comfortable.

At 4:50 they called our names and we were liberated. Literally. We could leave the passport prison and now we can also leave the countnry.

9 hours and 35 minutes to passport freedom.

I had a lot of octopus knit.

And we got out of there in less than 12 hours, which seems to be a little miracle.

I think it was thanks to the american capitalist voodoo.

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