Administrivia

Yesterday was a day filled with boring but necessary administrative tasks. You know the kind: the forms to fill out, the appointments to make, the schedules to shift, the approvals to get. The stuff that has to be done, but is are either so dull or so annoying that you resent having to spend time on it. The stuff that feels like a waste of time, even when you know it isn’t. Tuesday was like that.

Months earlier, I’d made an appointment for my son to apply for a new passport. My own had been easy; I could do it by mail. But he was under 16 when he got his last passport, which meant he was required to turn in the forms and show his identification in person. It was harder the last time. When he was under 16, both parents had to show up with him for the appointment. This time, now that he’s legally (mostly) an adult, I could bring him without my husband being present too.

We had to apply at a post office in Bailey’s Crossroads. Alexandria would have been easier, but there were no available appointments here. Still, not a big deal. Bailey’s Crossroads isn’t far. But first we had to have a passport photo taken. I went online ahead of time and realized there was nowhere to have one taken directly on my route to the passport post office. So we would have to detour a bit to go to Walgreens in the other direction. That seemed easy enough; it’s only a few minutes from here. Unfortunately, my son sleeps like a college student — meaning LATE. And it was so hard to get him out of bed that by the time he was ready to leave, we were seriously in danger of being late to our 12:30 appointment.

We drove first to Walgreen’s and ran in to get his photo taken — only to find that the machine was broken. The nearby CVS had not shown up on the list of drugstores that take passport photos, but it was close by, and I thought I’d seen a “Passport Photos Here” sign inside, so we took a chance and tried it. And yes, my memory was correct. We got the photo taken, jumped back in the car, and headed to Bailey’s Crossroads, afraid we would be late for our appointment.

As it turned out, we arrived at 12:25 — later than the 15-minutes-ahead-of-time that was recommended, but still before our 12:30 appointment. The 15 minutes turned out to be for filling out the form, and ours was already filled out, so the rest should have been quick and easy. It wasn’t.

There was a desk marked “Passports” with an employee behind it. When we told him we had a 12:30 appointment, he seemed surprised, but he looked it up, discovered that we really did, and said he wasn’t the Passport Guy, but that he would get him for us. He disappeared into the back room. And we waited. And waited. He did not reappear, and Passport Guy remained in the back. After 45 minutes of sitting there, I waited in line for one of the cashiers, and told him we’d been waiting for the person who could take our passport application. He apologized and said he’d get him, and then he too disappeared into the back, leaving no visible employees (and a line of customers).

We waited some more. And finally, another guy came out from the back, stationed himself at one of the cashier windows, and called out “12:30 passport appointment!” We bypassed the line of waiting people, turned in the form, showed him my son’s student I.D., paid the fees, and finally were finished.

My teenager wanted to stop for takeout lunch. It was 2 pm by now, neither of us had eaten, and (besides sleeping) one of the most remarkable talents of teenage boys is their ability to eat. But first we had another errand. The car had failed an inspection two weeks earlier. The repairs had been made, but now it had to be re-inspected before we could get our window sticker. The inspection place was near a restaurant that is a favorite of my son’s, so I told him we’d go there after the car was taken care of.

We arrived at the inspection station, hoping it wouldn’t be crowded, since it was the middle of the month. Unfortunately, it did appear to be crowded. But when I talked to the mechanic, he showed me where to park the car and said that I was next in line and it would be 20 to 25 minutes. After 45 minutes, I went to find him, and couldn’t. Apparently he’d told me we were next and then went on break without telling anyone else. The other mechanics assured me I was next, and we went to the waiting room to sit it out.

This time, it really didn’t take that long, the car passed, and we got our inspection sticker, so we’re good for another year. And then we went for pizza, feeling that we’d deserved every bite.

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