I've decided my name should be "Murphy", as in "Murphy's Law" because I do believe that if I wasn't the initial inspiration for the name, I am definitely the ongoing inspiration for it.
Yesterday morning I decided to pop onto the State Department website to check the status of Jeff's passport. We filed the application on April 18 and hadn't heard anything. He travels on June 6, so we are running out of time and I wanted to know what the status was.
Can you see where this is going?
Sure enough, I typed in Jeff's social security number and it told me "a file with that number cannot be found". Hmm, I thought. That's strange! I have the application and receipt for payment right here. So I did just what anyone else would do. I tried again and got the same result. The hives were just beginning at this point......
Next step was to call the State Department. Have you ever tried to call a government agency? OH. MY. WORD. Once I finally got them to speak to me in English, our NATIONAL language if I'm not mistaken, the operator was actually very nice. He asked me for Jeff's social security number. Surprise---he had no record with that number. Then he asked for our last name. I spelled it three ways, including each usual incorrect spelling, just in case. Nope, nothing. Then he asked for Jeff's birthdate. Nothing. At this point, I was itching AND twitching.
Trying to contain myself, I asked him what I was supposed to do. He asked if the checks I had written for the fees ($125!!!!) had been cashed? I quickly checked our checking account online and saw that yes, one of the checks had indeed been cashed but the other had not. The plot sickens.
At this point there was nothing he could do for me. He told me that I could check with the post office where we'd submitted the application but he didn't think they'd be able to help me. Our only other option would be for Jeff go down to DC to the passport office and apply in person for an expedited passport. By this time, I was about to cry.
I don't think I've ever gone to the post office so quickly. When I got up to the counter, I tried to contain myself as I explained my problem. A frightening flash of recognition crossed the clerk's face "What's your last name?" she said. I told her and she nodded apologetically. Then she informed me that the US State Department had indeed LOST all of Jeff's documents and those of the five other people who had applied for passports at their post office that day. LOST. THEM. I was incredulous. "Those documents" included Jeff's original passport, original birth certificate, his new passport picture, the completed application, and the $75 check!
After I nearly leaped over the counter and strangled the woman with my bare hands, I said "Was anyone planning to let us know this had happened? He is scheduled to travel on June 6?" Her insufficient answer: "Well, I've been calling them but it's not looking good. I would have called you when I knew something." Yeah right. She advised that I work on getting a new birth certificate, passport picture, etc. and make an appointment for Jeff to go down to DC and get an expedited passport. Because, evidently, she believes that we have all kinds of time and money to fix their mistake.
I got to the car and called Jeff's mom immediately. Thankfully, she was home and able to head out right away and get the birth certificate process going. That is set to arrive at our home, via overnight (read EXPENSIVE) mail, tomorrow morning. Then I called to make Jeff an appointment at the passport office in Washington DC. Because he will have to take a personal day from school, I wanted to get an appointment quickly so he could make plans.
Well, naturally, it's the government I'm dealing with here. Jeff can only make an appointment for expedited service if it's two weeks before he travels!!! So, I have to call them back on Friday and hope that he can get an appointment in time, get the day off of school, etc. Not to mention, he'll need a new passport photo, another 75-million page application completed, and the FEES for each of those things paid. I haven't been so angry in a very long time.
This morning, I will be calling our congressman's office promptly at 8:01 a.m. I don't know that he'll be able to do anything but I intend to let him know that somebody screwed up and that I'm not happy.
Thankfully, today is my day off. I'm getting my hair cut and having coffee with a friend. I hope she doesn't mind meeting "Mrs. Murphy" for a chat. Sigh..........