After the dismal news that my passport would not be forthcoming, I had resigned myself to doom, failure, a summer working a fry vat, etc.  Then I said, “Dammit, I will go to Chicago, and get a passport if it kills me.  So I grabbed my bags, kissed the cat, bade my mom goodbye, and KS(-P) and I set forth just a shade before midnight to Chicago.  Why KS(-P)?  Other than she’s a kick-ass friend?  Well, she said she was due to hand out some road trip karma, and karma she did hand out.  So, much thanks to KS(-P).

Dopey and punchy and whatnot, we arrived in Downtown Chicago at the charming hour of 2:30 am.  Scoping out the Dunkin’ Donuts as a potential headquarters before the line formed.  Imagine my surprise when we discovered that a line had already formed (a line of 4, but still).  I joined the passportless band of would-be travelers on the sidewalk and KS(-P), seeing that I was in the company of relatively sane, normal folks, headed back home, so she could catch her 8 am meeting.  Here follows my journal:

2:40 am:  I am fifth in line.  And we have a long wait ahead.  Despite the information I was given, the Passport Office does not exactly open at 6:30 am, but 8 am.  Still, all hope I have resides here.  On the ground.  Outside.  At 2:40 am.  Shit!  I left my ultra-important manila envelope in KS(-P)’s car.  A quick check – am I that big of ditz?  Apparently, at 2:40 I am.  Fortunately, I have my cell.

“Hi”
“Yeah, I left my envelope in your car.”
“Oh shit, you did.”

KS(-P) needs to find a way to turn around, but will return poste haste with my manila envelope.  Which has my “proof of travel,” my bording pass, etc.

2:50:  Bad news.  According to the woman behind me in line, I need my birth certificate.  Which is in New Orleans.  With my unfinished passport.  I may be screwed (as if I weren’t already).  Still, I’m already here, and I can’t turn back now.

3:10:  It’s official:  everybody is pissed off at the “guv’ment”.  And well they should be  There’s me: leaving today.  The woman with her two daughters: leaving tomorrow.  The couple going to Rome: leaving Friday.  You get the picture.  People have driven here from Ohio, from Kentucky.  Something is amiss.

3:15:  A couple with snacks and chairs have just joined us.  I envy their chairs, but what would I do with them if I get to go to France?  Another couple follows.

3:30 – 5:30:  Waiting and pretending that I don’t have to go to the bathroom.  At least the weather is nice.

5:30:  McDonald’s is open.  The girl going to Costa Rica and I make a pilgrimage to the facilities.

6:30:  We are let into the building.  A victory (of sorts).

6:40:  I call my mom, give her the limited information I have.

7:45:  We go through the metal detectors!  We get to be seen.

8:15:  I have been dealt what might be a reprieve.  Although my birth certificate is still Nawlins (with my unfinished passport), I still may get my passport today.  Dare I hope?

9:00:  The secret is clearly to be early and have a pressing need.  That way, everyone who works at the passport office has not been beaten down by the daily crush of bureaucracy.  I see signs of strain.  Poor Bastards.

9:05:  We have been under radio silence for over an hour.  Cell phones off.  I can respect that.

10:30:  So far everyone who is traveling today has gotten their passports but me.  In acknowledging that fact, I eat two Tums.

10:55:  You know what kids love?  Waiting.

11:30:  Just when I despair, one of the (kick ass) Passport Staffers mispronounces my name.  Holy crap, it’s my passport!  They moved mountains.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m going to France.

11:45:  I catch the train to O’Hare.  Lord I want to take a nap.

12:45:  I’m here!  Really early, but here!  Better really early than too late.

1:15:  Some guy acts as if I’m Mother Teresa because I hand him a bin.  Have we really descended to that point where a simple display of nice manners is extraordinary?  Poor bastard (my new saying).

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