As we returned to our car we discussed the merits of discontinuing international travel until our youngest child turns 18 versus pitching a tent in front of the post office overnight to obtain two of those coveted numbered sheets of paper.
Fortunately for us, the passport lady intercepted us in the parking lot. She furtively slipped us sheets of paper #12 and #13. “Don’t tell anyone I gave you these!” she warned. Those two numbered sheets had been returned, but she defied the rules, and reissued them to us. We rejoiced that we need not pitch a tent after all!
We were instructed to return in an hour, which we did. There was still a long line of people standing in the lobby. They were standing because there were only two small benches on which to sit. We waited an hour as #8, #9 and #10 were served. Just one number to go! But then the door to the passport office clicked soundly shut as passport applicant #10 exited. Passport applicant #11 look perplexed. She knocked on the locked door with no response. Passport applicant #11 waited with us another 45 minutes. Our daughters and I passed the time informing naïve newly arriving passport applicants how one obtains the numbered sheets of paper required for applying. My husband was on his phone canceling business appointments (and fuming on Facebook). Eventually another post office employee informed us that the passport lady was at lunch but would be back in 5 minutes.
Three and a half hours after our arrival, we entered the passport office. The passport lady’s desk phone rang continuously. She initially ignored the phone while starting on our paperwork, but after about 15 minutes put down her pen and starting answering the phone instead. “No appointments”, she said to each caller. “Come early in the morning and get a number!” After a few of these calls she asked me if I’d like to start answering the phone for her, thus freeing her up to complete our paperwork, which I was happy to do, but unfortunately she was only joking. The other disruption was the periodic knocking on the door. We were no longer in the lobby to explain the numbering procedure, so the passport lady had to answer the door and explain the system to each new arrival. She finally did finish our applications, and then we waited another 10 minutes in the line at the counter to pay for the expedited service.
We were astounded and amazed when the new passports arrived in the mail today, a mere seven days after the applications were submitted! Who knew that getting passports renewed could be so quick and easy?