Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Passport, Part III: I'm from Joisey, you from Joisey?

It was now one week before Christmas. I hadn't wrapped a single gift, hadn't sent any cards, and still had shopping to do, yet all I could think about was the passport dilemma. It was a like a rock and roll backbeat in my head: get a passport, gotta get a passport, get a passport, gotta get a passport. I don't know if anyone has ever been institutionalized due to a mental breakdown over personal documentation, but I was about to be the first.

Well, the next object on my agenda was to get a new copy of my birth certificate, one that listed both my parents' names, in case the passport office called for it. This proved to be no easy task.

First, I considered calling the hospital where I made my grand entry into the world. Alas, it is no more. It was probably torn down to make way for a Super StuffMart. God forbid our country should be known for its accessible health care. Better that every American have access to kitchen towels bearing the likeness of Elvis Presley and really awful movies on $1.99 DVDs. But I digress.

I kept up my search, via the internet, and after a couple of days I finally came across a phone number for the registrar in the county where I was born. I placed the call, and was connected to a very helpful woman named Rosemary.

Talking with Rosemary was a pure delight. Her thick New Jersey accent immediately took me back to my childhood. My mind was flooded with memories of the best pizza on earth, summers at the shore, cars going 185 mph. No, I don't mean at the Pocono 500. I mean on the Garden State Parkway. People in New Jersey are always in a hurry. I can only speculate that they're 1) in a rush to make more money, so they can pay the obscene property taxes, or 2) running from the mob. Or maybe they're just trying to get  far away from Donald Trump's hair.

I would have loved to reminisce with Rosemary, but she was - here's a surprise - in a hurry, so she quickly walked me through the steps of the web site where I could apply for a new birth certificate. I thanked her, and that was the end of my happy little walk down memory lane.

Next, I filled out the required online form and noted that I would have to fax in a copy of my driver's license. I could do that at work that night. Then I ponied up my $40, thinking that the hospital bill from my delivery was probably less than what this piece of paper was costing me.

The following day I got an email from the registrar's office, saying that they also needed a faxed copy of my marriage certificate. Good gravy, what next? One of my toenail clippings for DNA proof of my identity? A copy of my last mammogram? A photograph of my toaster?

Finally, all necessary paperwork was submitted, and two days later, my new, detailed birth certificate arrived in the mail. Everything was in place should the passport office call. We had only to finish the hockey tournament the next week, and then purchase our plane tickets to Detroit.

And wait for the arrival of the passports.

Next - The Passport, Part IV: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. And The End.

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