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|Stupidity abounds. The latest stupidity that I would like to share is that which can be found no further than your nearest government agency|
As maybe two of you might know, I'm going to be going to europe in a couple months. As this will be my first trip outside of the US, I needed a passport. Knowing the government the way I do, I got the process started 16 weeks from when I leave (it's a 6 week process).
So I go and dig out my birth certificate that I travelled 4 hours to acquire when I was getting my driver's license. I take the pictures, send in all the paperwork, pay their fifty or so dollars, and expect my passport. I should note that I have never NOT had a problem with a governmental body when I needed them to do something, so I cross my fingers and hope to god I get lucky in the russian roulette which is dealing with the government.
And, as was expected they screw it up. 4 weeks after I send everything they need (even double-checked by the post office that accepts passport requests near me), they send me a letter. the letter says something to the effect of "we did not receive your birth certificate, please send it in, so we can complete your request". Ok. I know it was in there when I last checked... Since my birth certificate has lots of sensitive info on it, I call up the number listed, and ask an extremely simple question.
"Was the birth certificate in the original information missing, or is there something wrong with it?"
Mashed Potato Brain One (after 3 minutes of explaining the situation): "We will have someone call you tomorrow, as we do not have it at this location".
3 days later, having not heard anything, I call back.
Mashed Potato Brain Two:
"The system says that you need to send in you birth certificate".
"Yes, I know that, I have that letter, I am trying to verify that you received it so I don't have to go down and start a claim with the postmaster general and put fraud watch on my social security number"
"Well, just send in a new one."
"Please hold on one minute." I stand up, clench and unclench my fists for a minute, then sit back down. "Okay, so are you telling me that they did not receive my birth certificate with the original paperwork? I have no problem sending a new one, but I must verify that they didn't receive the original."
"I guess I am".
So, yeah, I spent today driving 4 hours out of my way to get my fucking birth certificate *AGAIN*. I then had to come back and talk with the receptionist of the postmaster, who advised that if it went missing it went missing once it got to the state department, and kinda put my mind at ease...
Of course, to be on the safe side, I had to put fraud watch on my SSN. And I had to miss half a day of work to do this.
I LOVE THE GUBMENT
the whole situation reminded me of a GFD that happened a few years ago, with the DMV.
You see, I sent in the paperwork to get my license renewed like a good little monkey. It was set to expire a month and a half in the future, on my 21st birthday, plenty of time, so I sent it in by mail.
And forgot about it completely. It never came, and my birthday came and went... I put a check into my atm one day, and after getting the receipt noticed that I double pressed one of the numbers-- instead of tens of dollars, it was for hundreds of dollars. Oops. I go directly into the bank, and let them know what I did. they took the receipt and said it would be corrected when they reconciled the ATM machine, and not to worry about it.
Off on my merry way, a week later, I make my normal trip to pull money out for the weekend. "there is a problem with your card"... demagnetized? nope, they put a hold on it.
So I go in to talk about it. the first thing the lady does is asks for my ID. This is after my birthday, so it was expired. because of this, she says it isn't a valid id. She will not release the hold without a valid id. So I call the DMV and... work through their bureaucracy, until they say "there is no record, it will be easiest for you to come in and do it at the local one, so you can get a temporary license at the same time.
Except it will be like $20 to renew, and my bank is holding my account hostage till I show them proof of identity. And in order to do that, I need to get $20, so I can renew my license... but get the money, I have to show my ID. To make matters even more fun, I was working 6 days a week, and the DMV was in the next town over.
When I was young and (relatively) less bitter, I never thought stuff like that happened. it literally took me four weeks to get the whole situation sorted out. I'm starting to understand that this is expected.
Updated: here we are, 3+ weeks later, and 20 days till I leave... No passport. I figure "okay, I guess I'll email them"...
and that is what I do. I send my info (by non-encrypted form, though nothing really private is sent). and wait. and wait.
and, getting edgy because we're less than 2 weeks away, I give them a call. Let me tell you something, hold music sucks. I have to listen to it quite often at work, so I'm used to it. it still sucks. The gubment service that runs this apparently never thought *anyone* would *ever* be on hold for more than 5 minutes... so they have this great hold system:
(Ode to joy)
"Thank you for calling the people who bend you over when you want to leave the country, due to increased call volume, your wait time will be more than 5 minutes. here's our website spelled out so even the 'tards can get it."
(Ode to joy)
"Thank you for calling the people who bend you over and sodomize you with a pipe when you want to leave the fuckin' country. due to increased call volume, your wait time will be more than 5 minutes..."
(ode to ...joy)
"Thank you for calling the assholes who..."
(ode to ... ... joy)
"thank you for calling the assholes..."
(ode to fucking joy)
... ... ...
saying the same thing over and over and over and over and over again.
30 minutes later, it changes... and about three minutes later, someone picks up.
"hi this is Tom, are you calling to get the status of your passport?" (imagine this as you would imagine someone from kentucky would say it)
"Hi, yes." (give him info)
"Okay, sir, I see it is in process."
"... ... ... Can you be more specific?"
"umm, yeah, they've been working on it the last two days, so it should be done soon"
"... uh, okay, thanks, I leave in 2 weeks, will I have my passport by then?"
"I would assume so".
"... ... ... (trying not to be an asshole) I would have assumed I would have it about a month ago, when my six weeks were up, yet I haven't seen it, can you be more specific?"
"You should call back on tuesday to get the status of your passport"
Why didn't I see this coming?