Before you can pay the post office to handle all your documentation for a new passport, you have to make an appointment online.
I tried to do it in person while I was buying stamps, but the clerk insisted that it can only be done online. So, that’s what I did. I made an appointment for 10:30 a.m. at the Angleton Post Office for my wife and business compadre, Sharon, who has lost her old passport and needs a new one.
The need is questionable. It’s more like a want. Life can continue without a passport, but we want to explore the world and also take some cruises - for which we both need a passport.
I especially like the cruising option because I am of the age when taking my hotel room everywhere I go is inviting. I also like catching trains and driving in strange places looking for the hotel. That is a different kind of an adventure.
The only problem I have with cruising is that a lot of the ships’ top decks look like floating amusement parks, and I’m a little beyond dropping down tubes, rock climbing, surfing or taking a roller coaster ride around the ship.
I hope to book cruises on ships that just have a pool or two on the top decks, minus all the amusements - maybe a giant screen we can watch movies on while sipping on our water. But to get on a cruise ship, or to explore other parts of the world, we both need a passport.
If my mother were still alive, she’d say: “Johnny, don’t spend all that money and time getting a passport. I’ll make her one.”
Then I would say: “Thanks, mom, but this isn’t Hungary, 1966. We barely got away with it back then.”
That’s how she got me out of that Russian occupied country in 1966 - she forged her passport, visa and other papers and took me with her to Austria. Things have changed a little since then.
I already have a passport. I just sent in my old one to the government, and they sent me a new one. It was easy. When you can’t find the old one, that’s when it gets tricky.
We got to Sharon’s appointment a few minutes early. We should have arrived earlier, but we had to go back in the house several times before we could finally get in the car without forgetting anything and embark on the five-minute drive to the post office.
The back section of the room was filled with people with appointments. I had to stand until a couple of them were called in. Then they were sent back out, and they had to stand.
We waited for about 20 minutes before it was our turn. I used the time efficiently to converse with the people around us. The husband of the woman next to me was not in good health, and she couldn’t imagine going on a cruise with him. An Asian couple tried to keep to themselves until I broke the ice with some topic I can’t even remember now. It was interesting, though.
A man who arrived later was very informative. We talked about cruising and passports. I felt like I was back in summer camp, getting to know all of the other campers.
But when our turn came up, and we had to part, we didn’t promise to write like we did when we were kids. Of all the times I promised, I don’t think I wrote a single letter to a single camper.
Now, for the big event. Did we prepare well enough, or will we suffer the same fate as the man who barged into the office while it was our turn? He asked the clerk if he could get a passport renewal for his kids, even though he left their current passports in Pearland.
That’s the most important part, buddy. The clerk very politely said no.
She went through Sharon’s paperwork very carefully, making sure all the originals and copies were there. Sharon had her passport photo taken elsewhere already. That helped a lot.
“It’s all in order,” said the clerk. “You’re good to go.”
We were almost good to go. First, I had to make a $35 payment to the postmaster and $130 to the U.S. Department of State. Then, we were good to go.
All that’s left is for us to wait two or three months to receive it.
Now, where did I put that shiny new passport I just got? I thought I put it in this drawer. I got it.
It slipped under the socks.
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