Monday, January 15, 2007

The Passport, Part I: Say Cheese

It was early December, and Sasquatch's ice hockey team was gearing up for a big tournament in Dallas right after Christmas. If they finished in first, second, or third place, they would then travel to Ontario, Canada, for the finals at the end of January 2007. Since only three teams were entered in our division, it didn't take an advanced placement student to figure out that even if the team lost every game, they'd still be going to Canada.

I decided that, in addition to Sasquatch and his 180 pounds of smelly hockey gear, I'd also take Princess Bunhead, because her best friend lived in Michigan. We would fly into Detroit, and since we were going to rent a car, I figured we could take an extra day to drive up north and spend a fun day together.

But then it dawned on me. Due to new federal regulations, travel into Canada was going to require passports. I knew I needed to hurry with the applications, though. It usually takes at least eight weeks to get one, although I don't know why. My guess is that the passport office employees are probably related to the guys on road construction crews.

Well, the first step to getting the passport was to have photos taken. We'd just run down to StuffMart and go to the photo place inside. I was certain we'd be done in thirty minutes.

This turned out to be the first of many glitches in my passport application plan. On our arrival at the StuffMart Family Portrait Studio, we were greeted with a sign which informed us that the teenage photographer, with the improbable name of Chelz, was out to lunch until 3:00 pm. It was now 1:00 pm. It seems Chelz was on a two-hour lunch break. I wondered what Chelz was doing for a whole two hours in our little town, where you can drive from one end to the other in five minutes. Ten, tops, if you get behind a tractor pulling a combine. I speculated that Chelz was probably over at the Dairy Queen, having a Buster Bar with her like, totally BFF, Crissie, gossiping and comparing, like, rockin'  nail polish colors. I was not feeling very benevolent toward Chelz. Or Crissie, for that matter.

Okay, on to Plan B for passport pictures. We'd go to one of the four - FOUR - professional photographers with studios on our little town square. I have no idea why our town needs that many photographers. It's not like there's a community of supermodels here. The only models in our burg are folks who might pose for "before" and "after" shots for a denture manufacturer. But off we went, my optimism about our mission not yet completely dimmed.

Turns out that photographers, like the post office, take Mondays off. Not one was open. We'd have to return on Tuesday, which would delay the processing of our passports one more day. I was not only not happy, I was beginning to feel a little stressed over the pressure that time was exerting on me.

We did return to town the next day and got our photos taken, for the discounted price of $25. After the nice little old man dried them with a hair dryer, I clipped them to our passport applications and headed across the street in the rain to the county clerk's office.

Tomorrow - The Passport, Part II: Who's My Mama?

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