The Time I [Almost] Got a Passport

Back in March, Kirk and a bunch of his friends planned a trip up to Whistler, Canada to go skiing. I wasn’t going to go because I didn’t have a ton of money in March (oh and also I’m not that good at skiing – sometimes tumbling down the mountain is as good as I get), but Kirk kept insisting that I go (I really, really did not want to sit at home alone for 5 days).

There was only one problem: I didn’t have a passport. When I graduated High School, Kirk’s gift to me was a passport. He told me to just go apply for one, and he’d pay for it. He thought I should have one and be ready to travel for whenever I felt like it (it was an awesome gift – everyone go steal this & give graduates passports every year). Unfortunately, I had no plans to travel and no money the entire two years that I was in college. (I’m not totally sure how people can afford to study abroad; I think they sell their body parts or something?) I wound up never applying for a passport because I didn’t want to waste two perfectly good years of having one.

Flash forward to 2016, and we were in a real predicament. Luckily, my two younger siblings had just gotten passports for their Costa Rica trip. Passport agencies tell you that it can take between 3-6 weeks to issue a passport and receive it in the mail, but Rhett and Reilly had received each of their passports in just over a week. I only had a week and a half before they left for Whistler, so it was a long shot, but I figured I’d give it a try anyway. I went to the nearest post office and sent in my passport application.

After that, it was just a waiting game. Whether or not I received the passport in time, would decide if I was going up to Whistler for the trip. (In case you don’t have a passport, all you need to get one is a driver’s license and a birth certificate. They scan your driver’s license, take your birth certificate, and have you fill out an application. That’s all.)

The day before everyone was supposed to leave for Whistler, I got a letter in the mail from the passport agency. I was stoked! Here it was! A miracle had happened, and my passport had actually arrived before everyone left for Whistler without me! Hurray!

Then I opened the letter. Apparently the identification that I had submitted was unsuccessful at proving that I was a real person. The passport agency needed five (5!!!!) other forms of identification; all forms of identification must also be five years old, have a picture of me, and a date that said identification was issued. In the letter was an enormous list of acceptable forms of identification to send the agency.

I’m 21 years old – I don’t have that many forms of identification to begin with, AND they had to be 5 years old! (Do old people have 7 forms of identification ready at any moment? I assume not, but maybe they do.) I do have 3 old driver’s licenses, but it specifically stated in the letter that expired driver’s licenses were not valid. I also have a student ID from college, but I started college 3 years ago, so that wasn’t valid either. I have a photo ID from working at Menards, but I didn’t start working at Menards until 3 years ago, so that wasn’t valid either. There you go – that’s all of my forms of identification. I somehow did come up with 5 supplementary IDs, but none of them are legally accepted by the passport agency.

Side note: you know that children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (OK, yes, I had to look it up to see who the author was)? Well, I could’ve written it – it’s practically my autobiography (my mother actually references it weekly when talking to me on the phone). No, I don’t have lots of horrible days, but in the book, crappy things keep happening to Alexander, and that’s why he has a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” If there is a possibility for something to go wrong in my everyday life (even if normal people somehow make it through the exact same circumstance perfectly fine), it will go wrong. Completing very simple tasks is often a long process for me because things never go as expected (i.e. The time when I was instructed how to drive off a Naval base: literally all I had to do was take a right, but I missed the right. Then there was a spot to turn around, but I panicked and missed that too. Soon I was stuck at a gate where they had to take down all of my information, I had to sign three pieces of paper, and be escorted off the Naval base by Navy police. I don’t know how these things happen either!!!) Anyway, my point is: I’m a very unlucky person.

Eventually I did call the passport agency, and a very nice man explained that this happens to everyone who has a driver’s license that’s less than a year old (my advice: do not apply for a passport if your license is less than a year old). He also explained that apparently school year books are now a form of identification (I don’t understand it either). Last week, I forced my mother to find five year books from before I turned 16, copy the front page, the page that says when it was printed, and the page with my name and picture from all five year books and send them to me.

Last week, Rhett and Reilly were in Costa Rica (while I was excited for them, I also simultaneously hated them). This week, my mother is on her way to the Philippines (I have the same feelings towards her). Maybe next month they’ll finally let me into Canada? Who knows – I may be banned from traveling forever.

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