Thursday, February 22, 2007

Happy as a Clam

I had kind of a stressful go 'round at the passport office this past couple of days. Mostly self-induced. See, Shelley and I are going to New York City, where we will talk about what we are going to eat next while we are already stuffing our faces with delicious food, and we will wander around and look at the buildings and watch people, and we will sit in cafes drinking great coffee, and we will buy things at all hours if only because it's very satisfying to buy soy ice cream after midnight because you certainly cannot do that in Ottawa, and we will go to lesbian bars and drink too much and look at pretty NYC girls. And this is all going to happen starting April 12th. And I knew this a few months ago.

Yesterday I decided I should probably go get my passport, you know, because I keep hearing in the news that they're experiencing crazy delays. Of like 25 days plus the regular time. And that puts me past April 12. At 7:20 am, there was a really long line up. I stood in it until I realized I hadn't brought my health card. So I left.

When I got to my office I realized I didn't need my health card. But I had very usefully discovered that if you need the Express service, which I just might, you also need to have a receipt for your ticket. So all's good, though I did sort of resent not having the extra hour or so in bed with my paramour. But there will be other mornings with him, so I fretted not. At least, not very much.

Next, I make a plan. I plan to get there for 7 am this morning. Everything goes according to plan. I bring breakfast, I bring a book (more on that tomorrow), I bring some work; I eat the breakfast, I finish the book, I edit some work. I buy a shitty coffee and drink it and stare into space feeling calm and prepared.

The line is moving along nicely, though as I get closer to the front, the guard is letting people in at the front of the line. This irritates me. I know it shouldn't, because they have their number. They've paid their dues, they've stood in line. But still. The irritation starts glimmering down there at the bottom of my pool of calm.

Then some guy who's been sitting in the seats, so has thus already made it through the screening-point line that I'm now feeling stuck in, cuts in front of me without an apology or a glance to acknowledge he's breaking protocol.

Fucker, I think, and proceed to start worrying about whether I have all my bits of paper, what if my references are no good, no, they'll be fine, do I have my health card, yes, but what if they actually do need my health card because I have a doctor's appointment in three weeks, what will I do for the appointment, and what if they do need it but won't take it because it's an old one with no photo, what if they want my SIN card, because I don't know where it is and where in hell have I put it and it's not possible I could have lost it because I don't lose things like that, I keep them in safe places, but then again I can't find it, so maybe I am the kind of person who loses very important documents, and that's not good, and do I still have my SIN memorized [pause], yes I do, but what if I've memorized it incorrectly, and no one would probably ever know, but someday I'll apply for some loan or mortgage and I'll get voted off the island because I have the wrong number memorized and how

It's my turn.

I'm flustered already, and my hands are actually shaking. I pull my envelope out, the pictures and my ID spill all over the counter, but the papers are jammed inside. I'm clumsily trying to extract them while the woman picks up my old passport and the pictures and exlaims "But these are too small!" Holding the photo of my tiny head aloft between her forefinger and thumb.

This, I was not expecting. I was expecting to not get a mortage in 10 years, but I was not expecting to be told that the passport photos taken by professional passport photo takers were taken incorrectly.

It is a true fact that my head is small. And very round. My old roommate John Tielli, who is an animator, used to comment on it quite frequently and ask if he could draw it.

So I can understand that it might have been difficult for the professional passport photo takers to make my tiny head somewhere between 31 and 36 millimeters tall. But that is why they are professionals. To deal with difficult matters such as the tiny cartoon-like heads of some people.

The people at Ginn Photography (Bank and Gladstone) have made my life stressful.

See, my guarantor lives in Kingston. And, even further away than Kingston is Mexico, where she will be on vacation for the next two weeks. Starting sometime soon. And so she'll be back just in time to make it really really tight for the deadline. I know a dentist, but he lives in Hamilton. I have not known my vet, my doctor, or my pharmacist for two years. No one in my family is the kind of person the Passport Office approves of.

I left the passport office in a huff. I may have said "I can't fucking believe this" a bit louder than under my breath. I feel a little bad for the poor woman, because she must deal with that shit all the time. But when she read the name of my passport photo takers she did say "Who are these people? I've never heard of them!" Like the passport photo takers she knows would never make such a mistake with my tiny head and I must have been naive to go to such a hole in the wall that she would never have heard of them.

Anyway, Shelley got her stuff in today, without any fuss or much worry and came to my office to report that I could maybe just bring in new photos with the old ones and that would be good enough.

Worth investigating, so I jotted down the 800 number for Passport Canada, and tried calling them when I got home from my bass lessons.

This is where the happy part starts.

First, I love my new cordless phone, which allows me to hear people well (the last one didn't), has a speaker phone and has a clip. So I called a few times until I was allowed into the queue to speak to a represetative, was informed there were six persons ahead of me, put the speaker phone on and clipped it to my back pocket. I listened to bad muzak, which was fine, and waited for the voice to tell me again how pleased they were I had called and that there were 5 persons ahead of me. It was very exciting. I did spend a little time worrying about the process, and if when it was my turn maybe I wouldn't get any warning and someone would suddenly be speaking to me from my ass, and more horrifyingly, I would be shouting back to my ass, but no, they have a very good system and I appreciated that very much.

Also, it gave me time to clean out and reorganize my fridge. I'm a little hesitant about having put all the weird things I seem to have amassed but don't like yet don't want to throw out all on one shelf. I suspect it may upset me to look at them all clumped together. I might put them all in the meat drawer that never gets used so I don't have to think about how sad they are that I don't like them.

I also rearranged my cupboards. I had an odd mix of baking stuff I don't use* in with the baking stuff I do use. So that's sorted now, and I got some of the shelves wiped off too.

It makes me satisfied in a deep and primal spot to have everything in its right place. I would do it for a living, except that only rich people could afford my services, and after a while, it would make me angry to be rearranging the things of rich people. Maybe I could be a corporate rearranger, and help non-profits doing good work optimize their working space. For a reasonable fee. I don't have to live large.

I digress. A very nice woman finally answered the phone, but only after I'd been very politely informed that I was next in line, and then that I was about to be transferred and there would be a click and that please I shouldn't hang up. The nice lady told me that I should really get the new photo signed to be safe, but that it might be worth a shot to take them in anyway, because the worst that could happen is that they could say no.

Oh, honey, I thought, no no no. I could lose years off my life worrying about the fact that I might never qualify for a mortgage.

*Carob? What in fuck did I think I was going to do with that? I may put it in the meat locker too.


Jo Stockton said...

1. The image of you shouting back to your ass is really, really, hilarious.

2. My brain does things like that too when I'm in stressful, official situations.

3. Not that I'm doubting New York's superiority in any way, but you can, in fact, buy soy ice cream after midnight in Ottawa. I know this because I have actually done it. You have to drive to the 24 hour Sobey's in Kanata, though, which probably isn't what you had in mind.


grace said...

Hey Mergan,

You have known Sandra for more than 2 years and she is not going to Mexico. And she is a pharmacist. Who loves to sign things. We should talk. Your ass and I should talk.

La Grack