Passport Trauma Continues

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You may remember a post back around the beginning of February about the beginning of our passport adventures…driving downtown, fighting traffic, and the hassle it was to jump through all the hoops that the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City has put in place in order to renew passports. All three kids needed renewals.

After paying an extravagant amount for the passports, we went down the street to a DHL office, and paid another $8 per passport so that they would be sent to our house.

We received the first of the three passports 3 weeks ago, and another one 2 weeks ago. The third one, Daniel’s, we still haven’t received. We leave for the U.S. tomorrow.

Oh, one minor detail…we lost the tracking number.

So last Friday I went by public transportation to the same office that we filled out the DHL envelope, to see if they could give us the tracking number. No. What do you mean “no”, I said, from this very counter we sent it. You HAVE to have records of that! No. Can I see your manager? No, we all have the same rank here. You need to ask the embassy. We gave them and you a copy of the tracking number. Grr…

So I went over to the embassy, confident that some camera with facial recognition was probably reminding everyone of my rather emotional encounter with the embassy one month earlier. I made it through security, and generally speaking had a pleasant experience inside those cold, gray walls. After waiting patiently (not) at the passport office information window, a young man finally asked me what I needed.

I explained my situation. “Give me a minute,” he said, and came back a few minutes later, reporting to me that Daniel’s passport had been delivered to DHL the afternoon before, last Thursday. Normally passports get delivered between 24-48 hours from time of issue. Ok. I could relax. We would get the passport in time.

Except that now it is Tuesday, and still no passport. I called the 01-800 number for DHL, and actually talked to a real person. She connected me to a dead-end voice option extension. I hung up and called again. Once again, a real person, who seemed helpful, and ended up connecting me to an extension in the U.S. Embassy that rang and rang and no one answered. I finally hung up. I called DHL a third time. This time I was in the middle of my explanation for the third time and the call got cut off. My fourth time the young woman simply said that if I didn’t have the tracking number, there was no way in heaven and in earth that they could find the package. That technically I didn’t send it, the embassy did.

How can there be huge holes in your system, and especially for such an important document! I (not so calmly) asked her. She recommended I call the U.S. Embassy.

So I called the embassy telephone number, and got an interminable number of voice mail options, none of them actually connecting me with a real person. Finally, I pressed “1”, the number for a citizen in distress. I figured at this point I qualified. I was transferred to extension 4400, and a metallic voice informed me that the voice in box was full, and that I’d be transferred to another extension. I’m sure if I was in a real crisis, that would have really comforted me.

Finally a young man answered on the other end, and told me that the passport inquiry department was open from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.  I should call back, using the same “citizen in distress” extension. Absolutely.

I had previously called United Airlines and asked about Daniel’s ticket. A helpful lady said to cancel it and put it on hold, otherwise we’d lose the entire ticket value for the flight. “How much to re-book,” I asked. $200 plus any different in flight price (which is likely, given the fact we’d have to buy it without any lead time). He can fly alone. With United, you can fly as an adult if you’re at least 12 years old. Ah…somewhere that doesn’t treat you like a child! Daniel has already flown by himself once when he was 12…he’s an old pro.

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