Dude, Where’s My Passport?

Traipsing around an airport at 2.00 in the morning. My passport was there, too.

A few weeks ago, Sarge and I were at the post office before most people are awake on a Saturday morning.

‘Nobody’s here,’ he said.

‘Everyone’s in bed.  It’s 9.03 in the morning.’

We were dropping off my passport renewal form before boarding a train to Glasgow for the weekend.

I checked the envelope for the thousandth time.

‘I forgot to cut and staple one of the two photos to the form,’ I was quoting the form.  The same form that rejected my first attempt at a photo, because my face was too big.  Yes, really.

‘The bottom of your chin to the top of your head (including hair) should not be less than 1 inch and not more than 1 3/8 inches.’  So says page 2 of the 4 pages of instructions that go along with the 2 page form.

Did you know that 1 3/8 inches is the exact size of a standard heel on a shoe?  I know this because that’s how the woman who took the second photo measured my face.  With the heel of a shoe.  No, she didn’t take hers off, she had heels around.  It was a shoe/jewellery repair/passport photo shop, where I spent a lot of time making sure my face was just the right size.

Back at the nearly deserted post office, Sarge cut and stapled and sealed before the whole thing started to look like an abstract art project.

And now, I wait.

My last passport was issued when I was 19.  I took the photos in a photo booth, took my just-right face to the US Embassy, filled out the forms and got my passport the next day, for reasons I don’t want to repeat.  The point is, I’ve never had to wait for a passport before, and I’ve used one since before I knew what waiting felt like.

I’ve said elsewhere that my passport is one of my favourite things.  And I like it best when it’s in the same building as I am.

I count the stamps and remember my journeys.  There was that time I was searching the Louvre for the accessible toilet and found the Mona Lisa instead, and the time I slept in a bathroom on another trip to Paris.  My passport has been with me in Italy, Prague and Seattle, where a waiter who was younger than me asked to see it when I ordered beer with dinner.  My passport nearly fell off the back of a speed boat in Ireland, but has never been through the wash.

I thought it arrived today, when the postman actually knocked instead of shoving stuff through the door.  I’ve never been so disappointed to see an early birthday parcel.  I appreciate it, but it’s not my passport.

I want it back, along with my new one.  It needs new ink and I have new trips to take.  Perhaps I’ll send a post-card to the lovely lady who finally got my face to fit in the photo.


76 thoughts on “Dude, Where’s My Passport?

  1. Please also get a large steamer trunk that you put stickers and stamps all over to show of your many travels. Maybe that’s a little bit old school, though. I’m not sure anyone has done that since the 1940s.

  2. So true!

    The only thing possibly more weird was having my photo taken for my green card, or “alien registration card” (nice phrase) issued by the American government that allows me to live and work here legally. It has to be renewed every decade — hey, just in time for the NEXT recession.

    Bitter? Moi?????

  3. i needed to renew my polish passport. after 2,5 hours waiting it was my tourn and the guy who was treating me just went for a lunchbreak before finishing my case…polish bureaucracy. at leat i didn’t need to make e new photo even though my head was not straight enough 😉

  4. That is very frustrating, especially when you have plans to go somewhere where a passport is required. I find that whenever I am about to take an international journey, I end up having issues with either my passport or my debit card. Good luck to you!

  5. I’m sorry, but I laughed out loud when I read that they actually told you your face was too big in your first attempt. That’s good stuff that you just can’t make up!


    Wishing you luck the second time around — I am sending positive postal juju your way from northern Nevada!

    1. I didn’t send in the big-face photo, the dimensions were on the form, and my face didn’t fit in the circle within the square! The form rejected me. 🙂

      Thank you, still waiting! Maybe tomorrow! 🙂

  6. Wow, I hope they told you about your face delicately. Though, I’ve never heard those passport rules. What if your hair was really long? Would you have to shovel it all up onto your head?

    1. I didn’t send in the big-face photo, the dimensions were on the form, and my face didn’t fit in the circle within the square! 🙂

  7. Somehow I missed this on the 14th (?), so how fortuitous that WP had the good taste to Freshly Press it. Congratulations!

  8. We went to renew our passports and get those lovely pictures taken and the camera man told my son to “remove his hooded sweat shirt”. (Mind you, he did not have the hood up). I think they have a dress code as well….

    oh my, body scans and losing our Hoodies in order to travel in comfort…well if the shoe fits…

    spread the humor: charlywalker.wordpress.com

  9. Why is it that every time people travel these days they are made to feel like criminals?! Here’s hoping your passport arrives quickly and that the buffoons at airport security don’t think your head is now too small in your passport picture.

  10. Why is it that every time people travel these days they are made to feel like criminals?! Here’s hoping your passport arrives quickly and that the buffoons at airport security don’t think your head is now too small in your passport picture. It could happen.

  11. I’ve done a fair amount of travel and I always have a vice grim on my passport. I worry way too much and always feel like some of the things that happened to you would eventually happen to me – you know the old saying about the people’s kids who play in the street never get hit but yours who mind the rules will be the ones who break a leg- that is what I am talking about. I thought about using one of those passport carriers around my neck, but …then I wondered…am I that old? Love your blog, and your post. Ahhhh Paris, the Louvre and chasing the passport! Live it now.

  12. It seems that with all the crazy stories out there about the challenges of obtaining/renewing passports, the word has become oxymoronic. Perhaps they should be called failports instead.

    Funny, interesting post. Congrats on the FP.

    1. Thank you! I got so excited when I noticed, my ear started to pop/clear! And maybe this means my passport will arrive tomorrow! I love the Universe! 🙂

  13. I was in Seattle last year and was also asked to show my passport as proof of age when I ordered a drink with dinner! Hmm…must be something about that city.

    Loved your post! 🙂

  14. I had to have pasport photos taken when I was in Germany for some of their registration requirements and my face wouldn’t fit in the grid either. It was nice that there was the grid in the photo booth so I could sit there and try to contort my face to line up my eyes, nose and chin with what they wanted. In the end I had to go and have a person take it because I just couldn’t make my face fit.

  15. Sounds like you make your life worthwhile. My favorite bit on this is, “I’ve never been so disappointed to see an early birthday parcel. I appreciate it, but it’s not my passport.” Now that illustrates the love of the passport. It’s nice to have little momentos that carry your memories for you.

    Back in the day, I attributed that to Jackets… I’d use a new one every year and now when I see them, all of those memories and heartaches and fun times come completely back.
    Better to use something that doesn’t require as much space. 😉

    Hope you have a wonderful trip! and you recieve it soon.

  16. Dude you reminded me of my passport renewal….such a horrible experience it had been. But the fun i had during all my travels, made that discomfort look like nothing.

    I hope you have fun trips ahead and cheers! 🙂

  17. I love my passport too! I have to go renew it and I want to do it but I, like you, hate the thought of it being out of my possession. My favorite place to take my passport was Venice. Hope you get it soon =)

  18. I loved this post. The sleeping in the bathroom post kinda made me nauseous, but I’m sure your passport is full of stories. 🙂 Mine is, too. Good times.

    Congratulations on being FP!!

  19. I know how you feel. I had to get my visa renewed while working in th UK: 2 weeks after I sent it I won a competiton to go on a mad ski party trip in Austria. Silly embassy didn’t get it back to me in time and I missed it. No snowbombing for me. Was shattered! It’s the best pice of travelling, my passport. Getting a shiny russian visa and an artisitc Egyptian one is great. Hope you get yours back soon, and happy travels!

  20. I shouldn’t have read this. I’m getting ready to download the passport renewal form and get the pictures taken. Just reading the instructions online is making me nervous. If I don’t get everything just right will they cancel my passport? Will I never be able to travel again? And I hate the thought of sending off my old passport and worrying that it will get lost in the shuffle. I’ll need a long restful trip to relax once I get the new one.
    Hope your passport is in tomorrow’s mail!

  21. In Canada, you aren’t allowed to smile in your passport photo. I have a US passport and the rest of my family Canadian passports so I tease them about being so unfriendly. Happy travels for your passport to reach you, and then for your planned trips!

    Congrats on being FP.

  22. I only got my passport 2 years ago, at the old age (these days, anyway) of 26. I was bursting with excitement to get it – and I have to say, it took quite a while to arrive.
    When I had it in my hot little land, I felt like I had a key to the world! So, I went to New Zealand. Beautiful place, I highly recommend, despite their recent tragedies.
    Hope it comes soon and congrats on FP!!!

  23. Love my passports! Lots of memories. Those horror stories of ‘where I was forced to sleep’ are so worth the torture. Hmmm, think I have my next blog….Thanks! and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  24. same here…

    You need to go to the city hall, enter a form and some other info along with the “I-look-like-frankenstein” photo. And then you just wait… 3 weeks is no exception.

    I’m really wondering what takes them so long? What are they doing with the form and the picture for that matter?

    Anyway, great post!

  25. Duh! I had the same problem so I got my head shrunk. It came out badly and now my teeth are too big and they don’t think I’m me. I’ve never really been sure myself whether I am me or not so my problem are compounded but not as much as interest is not. I had to use helium to temporarily reexpand my head and they then thougtht that my head might be a b-mb (you can’t use that word and get a passport) but don’t worry cause b-mb is not that word it just hints at it with complete innocence. My head is so big they finally had to rebuild the photo shop and remove the camel dung concession stand. There were many disappointed nomadic Jews. That’s the realy reason they won’t leave Israel you know…attachment to Camel dung. Freud was just about to get around to deconstructing that whole thing when he died from a cocaine overdose while getting a blowjob from his mother (but that’s another story). The good news is that my faith in quantum reality was ultimately restored when I learned that they are building a Camel dung concession stand in Texas the size of 14 WallMarts and world peace was thereby achieved though it hasn’t been made public yet. Am I rambling on too much? It’s 4:19am and I should be sleeping or maybe I am sleeping…I really can’t tell anymore. By the way, don’t forget to ask for the “bullet-proof” version of the US passport. It costs alot of money but it’s worth it unless they shoot you in your big head…no, that would only happen to me or maybe it has already happened…that would explain alot. My head is still fucking huge….size 8 if you can believe that. If you don’t I could show you my size 8 Irish hat that clearly does fit. But all of this has deepened my compassion for people with extra large melons particularly the poor red headed Scottish kid in “I Married An Ax Murderer” where his kindly abusive Dad says to him: “….Ed (short for Head)…down front….look at ‘is ‘ed…it’s a bloomin’ Sputnik…” I think they stole that scene from one of our old family movies but I can’t prove it and even if I could I’d still have a bloomin’ Sputnik for a “ed…but of course mine would have lost its’ orbit by now…that would explain alot too…the good news is: anything can be done when the CIA is on your side and nothing otherwise…it’s a sad fact of life…

  26. What a nice post! I too will be sad when I have to part from my beloved passport in a few months as it is about to expire. No more flipping through the stamped pages and reliving the great trips connected to theses stamps. But see the upside: All those new blank pages are a great reason to travel to new and exciting countries!

  27. I understand all the nerves around passport obtaining and renewal. It’s a royal pain in the backside. My last one got rejected because I had too much of a reflection in my gegs, but I never received the letter to tell me to send a new photo. I was waiting weeks, chased it up and discovered the problem…and a whole lot of stress and panic (and £100 plus fast track courier service) later, I got my passport 16 hours before I had to leave the house to go to Greece. Argghh! Xx

  28. It sounds like you have much more flexibility for pictures in where you can have them done- in Canada it has to be done at pre-approved shops to ensure that it’s not incorrectly taken. I just got my new passport, so I know the feeling of relief when it is back 🙂

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