Great news! My passport has finally lurched into my hands after a dubious send-off from the Passport Agency in South Caronlina. We had the entire postal service in our area on high alert to watch for it in the early morning sort. To great relief we got a call from them early to let us know the package had arrived. Some would say I should be joyful, but I’m really just spitefully simmering because it has caused a tremendous PITA. You wouldn’t believe the lengths I was poised to go in order to get myself a passport and to catch up with the flight to Bangkok. Since the Los Angeles office was booked solid for the next week, that really gave us trouble. LA is along the route, and I could have stayed there until monday to get my passport there. We are sure that if we could contact a congressman they would have gotten me an early Monday appointment. Circumventing the automated telephone appointment system proved to be intractable. We called on all possible contacts, and had to settle for an appointment at the new center in Aurora, Colorado.
For those of you who may be working through the telephone system for the US Passport Agency (1-877-487-2778) save yourself some ‘blah blah’ time on the menu and press ‘1’ for English, then press either ‘1’ for recorded info on visas, ‘2’ to get to the automated appointment system (if you’re traveling internationally in less than 14 days), ‘3’ to get a human being to ask about the status of your application, and then some other choices. If you want to make an appointment, you’ll get a lecture about how the system in only intended for those who are applying for a visa or are traveling internationally within 14 days, so just press ‘1’ to get past it, then you’ll need to listen to the list of cities. For me it was all in the western US, so I would push ‘3’ When you make an appointment you’ll be give a confirmation number, so be sure to have a pen and paper ready because the number won’t be repeated. Your first opportunity to fail and be kicked out of the system. The lesson learned here is to apply for the passport a year in advance, to BEGIN with an adamant and indignant expedite order, then the next day to escalate to bridge-burning rudeness to the poor customer service rep at the phone center. Rinse and repeat daily. That gives the pathetic, passive-aggressive stapler troll at the Passport Agency 363 days of obscene Spam mass mailings to rob this planet of our precious oxygen.