Saturday, March 10, 2012

What Getting Married Means to Me, Part 2

Getting married means ... standing in line.

First at the Iowa DOT for a new license, then the passport agency, then for a new social security card.

Tuesday March 6: We arrived at the Federal Building at 12:40 for a 1:00 appointment to order a new passport for me to be able to travel with my new name. If being on time mattered, we would have been in trouble. We stood in the security metal detector line for 30 minutes before finally heading upstairs to face another line in the office. And a security guard who told David he wouldn’t be allowed in, since there was no room in the inn, so to speak. The place was, indeed, packed, but it meant David went downstairs to spend the bulk of his birthday waiting in the tiny canteen area.

I stood in line.

The line was fairly short, so I made it to the window in a short time, whereupon the clerk handed me a form to fill out and then bring back to her. Form duly filled out, I turned around and the line had grown by a factor of six. Other people at my stage of the game had jumped the queue and gone straight to the window. However there were now people in front of the passageway to the window - people waiting for others, and children and family members of people in line. The easiest way to the window was back in line.

Eighteen people later, I stood in front of the window again.

“Here’s your number. Have a seat and wait until it’s called.”

I sat. I waited.

The people ahead of me were being told to come back after 3:30 and pick up their passports. I listened to all kinds of wonderful travel stories, and about mission trips and a high school exchange student and many people who just received citizenship signing up for their U.S. passport for the first time.

Finally, though, it was my turn. I handed the clerk at Window 4 all of my documents and waited while she looked them over. “Did you come here from Iowa? Are you going back? When are you leaving Chicago?”

Those were a little funny, as they had nothing to do with my passport. I explained I was in Chicago just a couple days in order to get a new passport, then I would be on my way to Montana, flying to Japan from there.

She looked at the clock again. “The cutoff for today has passed. The earliest you could pick up your passport is tomorrow at 10:00.”

Not three people ahead of me had been able to pick up their new passports that day; I had just barely missed the deadline.

We were both exhausted by the time we got back to Vivian’s house. At least I remembered to buy an angel food cake, and we managed to sing Happy Birthday to David before he fell asleep.

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