Monday, February 26, 2007

Pushin' An Elephant Up The Stairs aka Diving Into The Stupid Well

Frustration and disappointment #1:

My son applied to get his passport renewed and paid $126.00 for the expedited service. Two girls from his dorm (same floor - can you believe that? I thought co-ed meant same dorm, not same floor) went 2 days later and already received their passports. Maybe girls don't look like terrorists? Granted the boy has lived in Abu Dhabi and visited Baku and Oman and we seemed to have walked in the footsteps of Mohammed Atta the summer of 2001 (Prague is incredible!) He and his sister demanded to have their passports stamped at every border. He doesn't shave all that often, has wavy, frizzy longish hair, and due to his Greek background has been mistaken for a Palestinian.

When he went online to track it there was nothing, the phone number for the passport center is constantly busy or a recording comes on, tells you they're very busy and hangs up. I tried calling several times late at night (they're open till midnight) and early in the A.M. Same old same old. Apparently there's no being "put on hold" allowed. So he went down for a personnal visit (Monday). Since he's in D.C. this is no problem. He found out that they can't find any evidence of it what-so-ever. So much for bettering the communications systems, since 9-11. I can't understand why, since he already had a passport, they can't plug that number into a computer, check off renewal and track the damn thing (Amazon and everybody else seems to have that technology all figured out.) So after spending an extra $126.00 to expedite it, plus the ususal $30.00 at the Post Office-Ben Franklin Branch in DC - since 1775 (what are they using? - The Pony Express?) all the government can do is give him the run around. He spent hours in line after line only to be told,

"Oh yeah, all the passports processed that day got screwed up."

(Hmm, what happened to them? Were they stolen? Lost? Sold to terrorists or illegal immigrants? Has Homeland Security been notified? Do you people even give a shit!)

"Besides, you're not leaving in 2 weeks, so we can't deal with you today."

"No, I'm leaving in 12 days."

"Well, that's almost 2 weeks. So come back on Wednesday, with all your documents and we can probably give you a new passport then."


At least in Azerbaijan, when you see the head of customs is the 10th most wealtiest guy in the country, you know where your money (and some of your possessions) are going. It's a very simple system, which works elsewhere in the world, except in the old U.S. of A. Here we deride all those small minded corrupt countries, that have an efficient system where everyone knows who the boss is - kind of like working for Tony Soprano. But here in the U.S. the State Department, Homeland Security and all the departments working with them, couldn't find a basketball in a paper bag!

The last time I left the country, I got the extra, extra, extra special treatment, which some people refer to as "gate rape." Apparently because I had a one way ticket (cause I'm moving to Cairo and that's how the company booked it) my ticket was checked with XXXXX all over. So not only did I not get to go through regular security, or next to regular security, I got to take off half my clothing and walk into a box that shoots air at me to detect explosives, with all the Arabs (yeah, it looked like I was the only non-Arab targeted.) I got nothing against being treated like shit, but it should be applied on an equal basis. Treat everyone like shit, goddammit, but do it professionally, not like a bunch of ex- Walmart greeters!

Today my son received the FEDEX, got more photos taken and ran down to the center. He happened to get "a really nice lady" because he called me twice for me to spell out my maiden name and then for my middle name, which I never use. All in all, he had to pay another $126.00 for an expedited process and was told it would be ready tomorrow - Wednesday.

Seeing is believing.

Now, disappointment #2:

I ordered the Apple T.V. right when I got back to the U.S. almost a month ago - gotta have that new technology. Now Apple has decided they need to work on it some more and it won't be shipped to me until after I leave. Vagabondblogger's boss man and she had been watching downloaded iTunes shows on their computers, in bed, late at night back in Cairo (quite snuggly, I must say.) It's kinda cool actually. I can deal with this Apple thing, but you know what they say, "when it rains, it pours," so what next?

I'm just hoping the old lady who's accompanying me can keep her cool until the trip. Besides the fact that she wraps her teeth through the grates in the crate door (she's not a good traveler,) My English Springer Spaniel (13 years old) has decided, with all the snow and ice, to push her luck. I love old dogs, they're so damn oblivious. I can only say, she will have much better quarters than me and my son back in coach, with middle seats.

Did I say my travel agent sucks?

I can't wait.

What next?

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