Your Tax Dollars at Work!

My sister took a great job in Florence Italy early this year. Now that summer is upon us, we have the wonderful opportunity to send Lindsay to see her for about a month. How exciting--that is until the government in all their wisdom decided this year that you literally need a passport to leave the country (unless you are driving or on a cruise). So...the national passport agency is OVERWHELMED with passport applications coming through.

I've begun to see the US government like the City of Midlothian. Midlothian builds large subdivisions around what can, at best, be considered po-dunk back roads. Then suddenly you have 1000 families using a rundown 2 lane road to get out of their neighborhoods and traffic becomes a real headache. Sensing the trainwreck that's coming, the city leaders THEN decide, "Hey, we should build roads to handle the new influx of traffic we've created". The US government knew they were going to increase passport applications by declaring a law that states everyone who flies out of the US has to have a passport and when the crush of applications started pouring in, THEN they decided perhaps it was time to hire temp employees to handle the problem. They didn't however, elect to spend too much time training the new help because we are now in passport hell, and it is all thanks to a group of people who were thrown into a job without timely and proper instructions. Your tax dollars at work my friends!

As of this writing, we are hoping to get an appointment to the Houston office (where all Texas passports are shipped from) to pick up Lindsay's passport because she gets on a plane in 10 days and STILL has no passport. Did I mention the $1300 non-refundable plane ticket yet? Silly me. Maybe it's because I've been up until 1 am for the last 3 nights trying to talk to the passport agents since their phone banks are so jammed during the day, they simply hang up on you--and I'm a little tired and forgetful.

To our credit, we applied for Lindsay's passport in early April. We paid for the expedited process as well as paying to have the passport application overnighted to Houston and then overnighted back to us upon completion. Every government employee I talked to in this process assured me it would be between 10 and 21 days until Lindsay got her completed passport. We are day 49, but who's counting? The problem is so stupid, I can't even fathom how sane people are seriously using it to withold Lindsay's passport from her. The problem is that Lindsay is a minor and needed Dane and I present when she applied for the passport to verify her signature and that she has our permission to apply for a passport. All 3 of us went to the post office with all the proper documentation, applications and the $198 it costs for all the expedited things we asked for. The postal employee verified the documentation, made copies for their branch, witnessed our signatures, mailed it all off and we thought all was fine.

Then the letter came...

In a nutshell, the letter says that since Lindsay is over the age of 14, we shouldn't have signed her application. The postal employee told us to, so we did. Lindsay also signed it as she should have. So, her passport is complete and sitting in Houston, but they won't let us have it because TOO MANY SIGNATURES APPEAR ON HER APPLICATION. So I'm on the phone in the middle of the night saying, "can you just white out mine and Dane's signatures, I mean seriously!" But no. She has to fill out a new application, sign it, overnight it and then the passport hostage will be released. 3 days ago, that was a simple fix to a stupid problem. Today, we are being told we have to provide ANOTHER passport photo, ANOTHER application and ANOTHER original birth certificate and then overnight the whole mess to Houston. And then when Houston has time, they'll update their mainframe and the passport will be mailed out. Here's the kicker. Houston doesn't like to do corrections unless you have an in-person appointment. The soonest Houston will give us an appointment is June 15. Lindsay's flight is on June 11.

Our state rep Chet Edwards is now involved. I honestly can't recall if I voted for him last election, but I will next time for his heroic efforts to help us out.

Thanks for letting me vent. I'll post the climactic ending to our saga when I know more.

PS--Start applying for your passport now. They're good for 10 years so 4 or 5 years from now when you take your dream vacation, your passport might actually be processed.

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Jonathan Blundell said...

I hate to tell you this... but Chet Edwards isn't your state rep.
Your representative to the U.S. Congress is Rep. Joe Barton. You're in the 6th Congressional District.