Amok Vacationing Part One: The Consequences of Procrastination

It occurred to me that all of my posts to date have been about running.
Not that this is necessarily wrong.  The blog is called “Running Amok”, after all.  I had, however, meant it to be a play on words, albeit a somewhat ironic play on words.  I am extremely Type-A and highly scheduled, and though my desk (and my apartment!) might be organized chaos on a good day, for the most part I am pretty hyper when it comes to keeping order and plans and schedules and lists.
In other words, I am very much a classic ENFJ.
Anyway, I digress.  Given my choice of blog title and knowing my personality type (and the weaknesses that go along with it!), it seems most appropriate that the first “non running” post should be about the very impromptu trip that Chris and I took to London last month.  As I said in this post, Chris found out on a Thursday that he had won a trip for two through iHeartRadio to go to London to see the world premiere of Eight Days a Week, the Touring Years, in Leicester Square.  Of course, said premiere was only a week away, and they were looking to schedule our flights for that Tuesday.  Tuesday! Four days notice!  I didn’t even have a passport!
See, yes, I am as I mention above incredibly Type A.  I am also a Grade A Procrastinator, especially when whatever it is does not have a deadline.  I’m driven by deadlines.  Without one, it’s difficult to prioritize.  Until recently, I didn’t need a passport, so I didn’t bother to get one.  It wasn’t a money issue – of course, they are pretty expensive, and that is the reason most people don’t have them on hand unless they need them, but for me it was just not a priority.  That is, until it was.
Chris told me when I took a late lunch that afternoon where he was bringing me my favorite donuts.  I walked back into my office, relieved that my boss was at his desk, to tell him that I wanted to take the next week off and why.  I didn’t think there would be an issue taking the time – I had the accruals, it wasn’t a prime sought-after vacation time that would create a coverage issue, and I didn’t have any pressing deadlines looming – it was more that I was asking for time with literally no notice … after all, I needed the following day (Friday) off, as well, because I needed to secure a passport.
As I had mentioned in my previous post, my boss graciously granted me the time off, so the next step was calling the passport agencies to see about getting a passport in one day.  The Department of State website clearly discourages this practice, but it was clear from friends who had done it before that it was an option for “non-emergencies” that were just, well, surprises.  I made my appointment for mid-morning in Boston, giving us plenty of time to drive out there that morning. (I chose Boston instead of New York because we were originally supposed to spend a long weekend in Portland, ME, that weekend, which we ultimately decided to cancel, but not until after I made the appointment in Boston.)
For all of you who are wondering, here is how it works:
  • You make sure you have proof of immediate international travel (emails from the Universal Music with my tentative itinerary – Check)
  • You call and make an appointment at the nearest Passport Agency (being in the Northeast, we are fortunate that there are actually quite a few within about a 3 hour drive)
  • You get yourself a Passport Photo (thank you again, Kristin, for sending me a coupon!)
  • You gather all of your vital identity documents – birth certificate, social security card, driver’s license, marriage certificate, etc.  Being Type A, all of this was safely tucked in drawer with other vital documents for safekeeping in case I need them quickly – the animals’ shot records, our recent year tax returns, the titles to our cars, etc.
  • You set your alarm for Ass O’Clock so you give yourself more than enough time to drive to your Passport Center of Choice the next morning.
I did the first leg of driving, and Chris took over for me in Lee, MA.  It was then when I looked over at his head. “You aren’t wearing your hat,” I said.
“I brought a hat,” he replied.
I smirked.  “Which hat?”
“My Saratoga hat.”
Indeed, Chris was as concerned as I was about securing the passport.  He didn’t want anything – not even the fact that my husband is a Yankees fan – ruining my chances.
There was no parking to be found in and around the O’Neill Federal Building (no surprises there), so Chris dropped me off and proceeded to drive around Boston, potentially looking for parking while he waited for me.  I walked by a CVS across from the building, and felt some relief that, if I needed it, I could get another photo taken if necessary.  That photo center must get a LOT of business.  I was an hour early for my appointment, which was fine, as it seems like it is merely so they can be prepared for the number of people who will be coming in that day.  After chatting with the woman at the point of entry, who confirmed I had all of my necessary documentation, I went inside and waited about 15 minutes before being called to the counter.
This is where things got a little dicey.
You see, this isn’t my first passport. I had one when I was in high school for a trip to Mexico.  Not only had this long since expired, but I didn’t renew it right away because I was in the process of legally changing my name.  By the time I got all of that situated, it became a source of procrastination for, oh, 15 years? 🙂  Anyway, in the meantime, I found out with my legal name change I could also legally “correct” my birth certificate.  I did so, only to find out that an official “correction” results in having the old name crossed off, rather than a clean copy be reissued.  Had I known this, I would never have bothered!  What a waste.  Because of this, I still carry around the court order allowing the name change AND the birth certificate when both identity documents are needed.
I filled out a cancel passport request for the old, presumably long since thrown away, passport.  I handed that in with all of my identity documents, including the court order and the “corrected” birth certificate.  The woman processing my forms looked confused.  I didn’t blame her.  I tried to explain why I was giving her so many forms.  She then went into the back to speak to her supervisor.  In reality, I probably only waited about 10 minutes, if that, for her to return.  However, it felt like an eternity.  The government is not a fan of aliases.  What if this is what keeps me going on this trip to London with Chris next week?  I began to panic.  I did my best to maintain my composure while I waited.  I tried to look in the back to see if I could see what was happening.  (I couldn’t.)
She FINALLY returned.  “Oh, so sorry about that.  Your old passport was so old we had trouble finding it in the system.  It’s so long since expired we didn’t even need to cancel it out.”
That was it?  A technical glitch?  I blinked, nonplussed.
“Also, I was getting approval to issue your passport this afternoon.”
I asked, “Did you get it?”
“Huh? Oh, yes.”
Well.  That’s a relief.
I paid, and was given a receipt with a confirmation number and instructions to return at 4pm. I called Chris, and as he still had not found parking, we decided instead to spend the next few hours at Trillium.
After all of that excitement, I needed to calm my nerves.


Given the parking and traffic situation in Boston, we miscalculated how much time we would need to grab a late lunch before heading back to get my passport, so I ended up being quite early.  Chris had an opportunity to drive his long loop through Cambridge and back while he waited.  At about 10 minutes to 4, a guard came out, with a thick Boston accent, explaining how everyone proceeding in an orderly manner would mean everything would go faster.  “You get your passports, we get to go home for the weekend.  It’s a win-win.”  His jovial manner put me instantly at ease – even though I knew logically I was very likely to have a passport in hand in the next few minutes, I still was not going to celebrate until I physically had it in my possession.
Finally – FINALLY – the wait was over and I had it in hand.  The angst of the last 27 hours or so had paid off.  I had a passport.  I could legally travel to London.  Let the adventures begin …

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