Never get a passport. Or if you do, apply for one, like a year early. Or two years. Patrick tried to warn me of the governments' ineptitude about paperwork. We applied for our passports OVER 4 months ago and when they still had not arrived in late June, I started freaking. We are to fly to Italy on July 14th for our friend Denny's wedding. We have had our tickets booked forever and the hotels - so no worries, right? Wrong. It seems like everyone and their Grandmom was in our situation though.
So like I said, when they didn't come in June I called the passport information center to find out what to do. They told me to call back when I was within 14 days of travel (this was told to me after 45 minuted on hold). I was 16 days out as I called on June 29th. So I waited til the following Monday, called bright and early, and was only on hold for 25 minutes this time. The guy told me he would put a request in to expedite them and they should arrive to me no later than wednesday, July 11th. He put lots of hope in my head but at the end of the conversation he added, "Of course we cannot guarantee they will be done by then so you should make an "appointment" at the local regional office." Ok - he was being political and had to say that, I made an "appointment" but he was so nice and reassuring that I knew they were going to come. Wrong again.
I called again on the next Monday, making sure they were processed and about to be sent out (overnight mail) to receive them on Wednesday. Turns out they weren't even done. Not close. So they put another rush on them. I called tuesday, and after 40 minutes on hold, the computers were down. I called again and they said they were in the final stages, just had to be printed then shipped. Cool. I call 1st thing wednesday. Mine is done and is being printed. Patrick's is still not done but should be within the next few hours so they will both get printed and shipped overnight so we will have them by thursday. I call later that afternoon (now mind you, each time I call it is at least 45 minutes on hold and 5 times the computers were down and I had to call back later) and mine is printed but was not shipped. Patrick's is still not done. I call late that night (like 10pm) and have them overnight both to Patrick's parents house so we might receive them on friday. I call Thursday - Patrick's is still not done, and mine did get shipped...to OHIO not PA where we are going to be.
So after all those minutes wasted on the phone, we still just ended up at the regional office in Philly. Our "appointment" was at 9:30 so we left extra early to miss traffic and so we could have a nice breakfast in the city. I keep putting air quotes around appointment because we arrive way early and there is a line around the block and onto the next block already formed. We were warned of lines 5 blocks long, but since we had an apointment I thought we were fine. Wrong again*3. The appoinment was just a way to get you there, then you had to stand in this god awful line. We got there at 8:15 and didn't get into the building until noon. And we were semi-close to the front. I took pics to document the horridity of it all.
We did stand next to very nice people which helped the time fly by. And it was gorgeous weather and we did not have the kids (like some poor fools there). You could hear everyone say - "But I had an appointment". Yeah lady, end of the line please! My back hurt from standing so long but otherwise it was actually a strangely, weird in a good way, experience. Once we were in they told us that both of ours were already processed (Patrick's had just gotten done that morning at the head office in New Hampshire) so they just needed to reprint them. We were only inside for about 20 minutes or so and they told us to come back at 3:30pm. We saw the "come-back" line with thier times and people again were all over the place. Your time meant nothing except you couldn't get in earlier than your time. During the break, I got a pedicure, Patrick did a crossword and we got lunch. It is a beautiful section of Philly so it was cool. Then back in line at 2:30 (hoping we would make it to the front near 3:30). Well, we finally walked out of there, passports in hand, at 5:00pm. 9 HOURS!!!!!! Insane, but screw them - We are off to Italy tomorrow :-)
Lesson learned: Apply way early for passports. If it is about to expire, apply for renewal way early. Apply for your kids passports now, even if you have no plans. You do not want to go through this!!!