Sunday, December 05, 2004

Evil Passport Photos

I went to get my passport last week. Getting one is a very, very big pain in the butt. First, I had to go to a postal outlet to pick up the application. Filling out the form is pretty straightforward - just fill in the blanks - but as part of the application, you need the names, addresses and phone numbers of three people who have known you for at least two years. One of these people has to be a "Guarantor" which means they must hold one of the occupations on a short list that is given to you (Doctor, Mayor, Police Officer, Lawyer, Veterinarian and a few others). Having only lived in Calgary for a few years, I had to make a trip to Medicine Hat to get a lawyer I have known for more than two years to sign it.

Well, as much of a hassle as all of this was, it did not hold a candle to the hassle I went through getting my passport photo.

Passport photo attempt #1, Nov 15 2004

Superstore, which is three blocks from my house, advertises to take passport photos for $5.99 that will be ready in 5 minutes. I remembered to keep a straight face and not to smile, but after returning home, I read the passport photo rules and realized that my mouth had to be closed. It wasn't.

Passport photo attempt #2, Nov 16 2004

They redid my picture for "free". No expression, no open mouth. Perfect, or so I thought. I got home and read the rules just to make sure. It turns out my head was too big.

Passport photo attempt #3, Nov 17 2004

They redid my photo again. The same guy was there all three days. He's feeling pretty stupid by now. The photo is taken. Looks good. No expression, mouth is closed, appears to be within the size parameters. I'm now ready to take my completed application down to the passport office.

Passport photo attempt #4, Nov 29 2004

I get to the Harry Hays building and wait in line for what seems like an eternity only to have my passport photo rejected. "What!" I scream. "Are you kidding me?" Apparently my head this time is too small. He tries to show me, but I can't tell. He must have amazing vision. I run down the street to a new place this time, paying $12.99, and make it back with enough time that I haven't lost my original place in line.

At last the nighmare is over. A trip to Medicine Hat and four trips to a photographer all for a stupid confirmation that I am indeed who I say I am. Good thing I won't have to do it again for at least five more years. I still have my Superstore receipt, so sometime this week I'll be demanding my money back.

-Tracie, Soon to be a passport carrying Canadian

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