Day -2 – Passport Hell (Portland/Seattle)

13 June 06. Impatiently she shakes her head. Why haven’t they helped her yet, she has children! Not with her…but she does. Continuously shaking or grunting, she stalks the window. To my left security guards chuckle. She stands up, steps, glares, and sits again to shake her head more.

Still shaking, the window clears, she is there before the numbers change. Friendly as can be, smiling, talking about her four kids under two. Laughing, chatting, crazy.

A young fellow walked in and asked the best way to get a passport for an infant. I resisted suggesting that he stick it back into the womb.

I’m going to the friggin world cup. About two months ago that thought congealed, appearing in my mind more and more frequently. I woke up Tuesday morning, that echo a shout. Quickly showering, bags thrown hastily into the car, spinning I go to the airport.

There’s a problem with my passport. I sit while she makes some calls. Somehow sometime it got wet. It hadn’t crossed my mind. These things are made for travelling, and I didn’t notice anything wrong with mine. The text was fine, the picture untouched. The laminate she showed me was peeling a little. She mentioned new immigration laws. She mentioned fines from German customs. Still sitting, I am an optimist.

She helps another traveller. The phone rings, she reads something from my passport into the mouthpiese. Hanging up, she looks to me and raises her hand. I think she looks welcoming and smile.

“We can’t let you on the plane.” Oh my God. I wail it again. Perhaps a third time, my head on the counter. Two years I’ve planned and she hands my bags back. Two years and I get picked up thirty minutes later, right where I left, legs weak head hung. Somehow my bags were heavier. I felt empty. Tired and defeated, I call the Seattle passport office. They aren’t open yet, but the system for an appointment is automated. I press 1 for a morning appointment. There are no morning appointments available. I press 1 again for an afternoon appointment. Would I like to setup an appointment for the next available, on June 19? My world dropped, my stomach hung. I knew despair.

We drove to Seattle. N drove me as I stared perplexed out the window, too empty for tears. I began considering camping trips.

The visit to the passport office went remarkably well. They were helpful, friendly, and even a little sympathetic. From the beginning my confidence rose. I probably wouldn’t be visiting my brother in San Diego, and stopped thinking about how to obtain a refund from an airline.

I’d grown a mullet for a soccer tournament a few weeks prior and decided to take it and some handlebars to Germany with me. Now the lark is immortalized in my kinko’s passport photos.

At 3:15 PM they handed me my passport. The information appeared correct and I signed it. Having already visited Seattle’s beautiful central library that day and eaten fish tacos across the street, I decided to head straight for the airport to get on an airplane.

I was able to switch my flight a little. I’d now arrive in Hamburg Friday morning mere hours before my first game ticket, Mexico vs. Angola in Hannover. Quietly the echo returned.

  • Nedra

    that was quite an adventure, going up to Seattle, but I knew it would work out and you wouldn’t have to stay home and just go camping! Long live good German beer and sausage (went to Gustavs tonight and indulged myself)