So here's the scoop on the passport.
I phoned this morning, right after taking the kids to school.
I had steeled myself for the worst, but honestly? On the inside, I was fully expecting them to say "oh, but madam, your son's passport has been sent, and should get to you thees afternoon"
I was not ready for this:
"Oh, that passport was printed on the 5th of March."
If it was printed on the 5th of March, how come I haven't seen it.
"Well, it is scheduled to be sent back to you on the 25th."
Could you check on that for me? Because I've phoned THREE times, now, and each time I casually mention that my son has to TRAVEL ON THE TWENTY FIRST.
"Ma'am? I'm sorry. But that passport was rejected. AFTER it was printed."
But....!!!! But...!!!!!! I talked to someone on the phone ON THE TENTH OF THIS MONTH and they said that it was NOT printed, but being SCRUTINIZED.
"Well, I see no record of that. Hmmm. And whoever told you that should not have told you that. They should have told you that the application was rejected, and that the rejected documents would be returned to you on the 25th."
Wow, so somehow, TWO different people that I talked to over the last week not only gave me false information, they also gave me false hope? What is my recourse? It is imperative that my son fly to France next Friday.
"But ma-am, you know that applications currently take 25 business days as a minimum. If you re-apply now, it will not be in time."
I understand that [*knucklehead* which I don't say out loud, but I think it REALLY hard]. But I am a Canadian trapped in California, and my son's passport is currently TRAPPED in Ottawa. What can I do?
"You can fly to Canada, and apply in person."
Will my son need to come with me?
"I would recommend it, as you have now had two applications rejected because of photography."
WHAT? This application was rejected because of the photograph? What happened?
"I see in the file that the photographic facial analyzer machine detected a glare on his cheek. There is nothing we can do. It was rejected after it was printed."
A glare? On his cheek? On the cheek of a 13 year old boy with bad skin? [jeepers, back when I was a kid, we called that the T-zone]
"Ma'am, it doesn't matter the source. A sheen or reflection causes the machine to reject the picture. If you tell us which passport office you will be flying to, we can transfer the file there, for emergency processing."
I will go to Victoria. It's where my inlaws live, and it's probably the closest office (that's not the insanely busy Vancouver/Surrey offices) to a border town. Because, and correct me if I'm wrong, seeing as you have my son's passport, he cannot get on an international flight, even if it *IS* to come home to get a passport.
"Yes, that is correct. And when will you be going to the office. I will inform the office, and they will call you with details of what you will need to bring. And you will need to get new pictures, which, if I could recommend, you have taken in Canada."
Can they call me back today? And do *I* need to travel with my son, as the applicant, or does my husband need to travel with my son, as he is the one who originally signed the backs of my son's rejected passport photos as the guarantor, and, I'm guessing, would need to sign these NEW pictures.
"Um, I don't know which of you should travel, but they would be able to inform you. Although... they are busy. What about calling next week?"
Um, because my son is SUPPOSED TO BE ON A PLANE TO FRANCE ONE WEEK FROM TODAY.
"Oh, so you would like to expedite this?"
*bangs head on desk* Yes, please.
"I will take down all your phone numbers, and then inform the Victoria office of your situation. We close at 8pm, and Victoria closes at 5pm local time. If you don't hear from them by... noon your time, call me back."
Are you open on the weekend?
"No, ma'am. It is a business office."
OK, yes, tell them that I will be on their doorstep at the crack of dawn (or earlier) on Monday morning.
And with that, I hung up.
I did *NOT* want to make an emergency trip to Victoria for 3 days, coming back less than 48 hours before turning around and leaving again.
I phoned my mother in law. I figured I should let her know the bad news.
And you know what? She was amazingly nice about it. Devastated, too. But she also said that she'd heard locally that it was pretty much impossible to get a passport, emergency or not, within a week at the Victoria office. Although she didn't think she could advise us about not making the effort, she wondered if it would be worse for Skip and I if we made all that effort and STILL didn't have a passport to show for it.
Truly? I was amazed. I thought she'd be pushing for me to go the extra mile, and all that, but she was nothing but gracious.
I hung up, at peace about not going to France.
And then the phone rang, nearly immediately.
The voice on the other end was tentative. He wasn't sure who he needed to talk to, but it was about an emergency passport.
"Me! You want to talk to me! My son's had a horrible time getting a passport, and our only hope is to fly up there and get one in person!"
He laughed "This is Joe. I only have your son's name, and no information about what's up. I'm the Emergency Passport Guy, how can I help you."
Joe, Joe, what can I say about Joe? The sun rises and sets on him and his wonderfully anglo-Canadian accent. He walked me through everything I might need, and about a dozen things that would REALLY help, but weren't absolutely necessary. He assured me that I had done everything humanly possible in the situation, and even gave me a hint as to what to say to the doormen at the office to get in quicker. There seemed to be little love lost between him and the Head Office (although that might just have been me projecting,,,,) and I now am confident that I can get things nailed into place by end of business day, Tuesday.
He even suggested that, seeing as I will be staying with my inlaws, that one of them act as the guarantor, and that way, he won't have to spend any extra time contacting Ken (the current guarantor). His suggestion: Print up TWO applications, identical in every way except that one has Ken as guarantor (with his signature on the back of the REJECTED photos - which we have), and one has my mother in law as guarantor (with her signature on the back of the NEW photos that we have taken when we get to Victoria)
More hurdles? Skip CANNOT get on a plane, and just fly to Canada... BECAUSE HE DOES NOT HAVE A PASSPORT. So we get to have the joy of flying to Seattle, and renting a car.
The only down side of this is that I'll have to pull Skip for THREE MORE DAYS of unexcused absences. Although I think that "being deported" might count as a pretty darned good excuse.
Is your blood pressure as high as mine is right now?
Consider the lilies of the field.
And take a deep breath.