Don’t Lose Your Passport

Outside the Chicago passport office, 6 a.m.

But if you do, you really can get another one in one day–at least I know you can if you’re within driving distance of Chicago.

Tuesday: Yes, Tuesday night I realized my passport wasn’t in it’s usual spot. We are leaving this morning (Saturday) for Costa Rica, as you probably know. I hunted and hunted. I panicked and sweated. I called a friend. I texted a husband who was on a business trip in Charlotte. I looked and saw that there weren’t any appointments at the Chicago passport office. Steven gave me the idea to go through a service that expedites passports. Phew, I start to breathe as I look at the site and see they can get me my passport by Friday. I’m still sweating and shaking and realizing that there won’t be any souvenirs for me, because while I may get a passport, it’s going to cost me LOTS of money. At least, what I consider lots of money. More than $500! But, better than losing out on the trip.

I gather my old passport, fill out forms and then,  I can’t get my home printer to work. Soooo, I go back to school to print. But … it’s college night and I can’t find parking. Every little thing goes wrong when one big one is going wrong. Finally, I grab a spot, rush into the building, sit at my desk and I fill out a bunch of forms, copy everything twice plus my license, call the service, to get a FedEx form and a letter to sign authorizing them to expedite my passport. The woman from the service tells me, “You will have the passport on Friday,” I heave a temporary sigh of relief, fill out those forms and print them, rush out of the building to Walgreen’s to get photos and put everything carefully into a folder.

Wednesday: When the post office passport office opens  at 10 a,m,, I am there. I quick check the folder: Where are the passport pictures???? OMG, I run back to school thinking they fell out of the folder and into my gym bag, but no. I do a quick calculation and decide that since the Walgreens is near the post office and I have to get back to work, I am better off getting new photos instead of searching at home. Back at Walgreens, the saleswoman doesn’t know how to reprint photos. We wait for the manager. Finally, I pay again, get my photos and head back to the post office. Luckily, I’m still first in line. They page the passport agent. Tick, tick, tick. They page him again. Tick, tick, tick. At last, he arrives, grills me about why I need two copies of everything and slooooowly processes my application, takes my money and seals everything. He works at the post office and can’t find an envelope to put the application in (REALLY?!?!?!?) He is cutting stickers in half and sealing every edge and then meticulously stamping them a bazillion times so the whole world knows the seal hasn’t been broken. He hands it to me, I haul my butt over to FedEx, shove everything in a mailer and start to pray. There’s nothing else I can do, so I head back to work.

Thursday: I anxiously await a text saying the agency has received my passport information. Instead I get a call. They tell me there’s no way they can get my passport to me Friday since they just received it. Of course, they just received it. I did everything they said. Somehow, they thought I could get to a passport agency on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. so I could get them the application on Wednesday. I am screaming and shaking. I may have called the poor guy a name that begins with A and ends with hole. Nevertheless, no passport. He tells me I can just go to the passport office in Chicago without an appointment. This is my last hope. I spend the rest of the day a mess, fill out all the forms again, call the passport office and get less-than-reassuring information, go back to Walgreens and have the photos reprinted again, tell my boss that I have to take off the last day before spring break. Very bad when you work in a school. Luckily, he is understanding and I have a personal day to use. At least Steven is home from Charlotte. His hugs really help. So does my therapist! This will be my third night of tossing and turning, but something’s gotta give on Friday. We decide, well Steven decides, we should get to the passport office at 6 a.m., because it opens at 8 a.m.

Frazzled, unkempt, but passport in hand.

Friday: We get downtown at 6  because even though I would have aimed for 7, this is Steven’s vacation too and I am about to F it up big time. We go to Starbucks. At 7, there are a few other people there and they are traveling on Friday. Eek! Suddenly, I’m not the biggest idiot in the room (technically on the sidewalk) . They let us into the building at about 7:20 (thank goodness, because of course it is still way too cold here), we go through security, but Steven can’t come into the room, so he goes home and I talk to the poor man with the expired passport whose wife and daughter are at O’Hare waiting for their 11 a.m. flight to Mexico. Good luck making that. I have to say, the guards were extremely nice, the process was a well-oiled machine, I was at a window by 8:10 and out of there at 8:15 with a slip to pick up my passport between 3-4 (although the agent at the window say, “You can come a little early.” I took the El home. Ate breakfast, picked up our niece at O’Hare, walked the dog, got back on the train and was sitting in a plastic bucket seat waiting for my passport at 2:10. At 2:20 it was in my hands. We’re going to Costa Rica!!!!


3 thoughts on “Don’t Lose Your Passport

  1. SE Greenwood

    Wow! Wht a pre-travel roller coaster. Glad you were able to pull it all together with these near misses. Hope you two are basking in Costa Rico’s sunshine, soaking it up.


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