Replacing a lost passport is not a cake walk

By John Toth

The Bulletin


We looked all over for it, but no luck. It’s in the house somewhere.


“Where did you see it last?” I asked.


“You were supposed to put it somewhere safe,” she replied.


“Where did you put it after we got back from our trip?” she asked.


The trip was in 1990. I can’t remember.


There was no solution left other than to get Sharon, my passport-less wife and business partner, a new passport.


That was the dreaded solution. The easier one was to find the old passport, send it in with a renewal application and get another one in the mail.


That’s what I did. I found mine. But it was renewed more recently because I took my daughter to Europe as a graduation present in 2011. I haven’t needed it since, and it was out of date, but the renewal was easy. It did take about two and a half months for the new one to arrive, but I hear that that’s not so bad.


Sharon’s quest for a passport would have to take a more complex path.


We downloaded the application, and she started filling it out. There was a glitch right away.


They wanted the number of the lost passport, the exact date it was issued, and the name Sharon used. But it’s lost.


The name would be the same. But what initial did she use? Did she spell out her middle name? This is one reason I’m glad I was not given a middle name. Hungarians didn’t get one when I was born.


And, to make things more interesting, Hungarians put the last name first and first name last.


So, in Hungary, she would be called Toth Sharon, plus the middle name, whichever one was used on the lost passport. Her official name after marriage would have been Mrs. Toth John.


It’s a good thing we met in Victoria, Texas.


“It’s asking about the old passport,” Sharon remarked.


“Just leave it blank. We’ll ask the clerk at the post office about it,” I replied.


Yes, the post office. That’s where you go to get a new passport. That’s actually not bad, because I like the clerks at the Angleton Post Office. I’ve watched many of them retire and new ones come along. They are a class act. Several are on my Facebook friends’ list.


Sharon tackled the application, and then we worked together on getting all the documentation she needed to submit it.


Birth certificate. O.K. Now, we need to find that - not a good start.


It turned out to be in the safe, right next to the souvenir Danube sightseeing cruise ticket stub.


That was easy.


That brought back good memories. I bought two tickets on a Monday, and we were two of four people on the boat. It was almost like a private hour-long tour - with champagne. Nobody made money off that trip. But I could stretch my legs out all I wanted without bothering anyone.


We came up with three birth certificates from three different sources - the original, a replacement from the state and one from the hospital. I made copies of all of them. Then I made a copy of her driver’s license and the application itself.


The dreaded task was all done, except for the passport photo. Down to Walgreens she went to get one. She had the clerk snap several versions, none of which was to her liking.


Passport photos want to make you look like a criminal - no smiling, hair behind the ear, look straight ahead, bad lighting, airbrushing prohibited.


It’s time to make an appointment and get all this documentation over to a postal clerk and see how well we followed instructions. I’ll share that in my column next week.


(Send comments to john.bulletin@gmail.com. Or write to: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516.)