Ken had Monday off so we all went to the downtown post office to apply for H's passport. I didn't intend for this to be the only thing I got done all day but that's how it turned out. When applying for a child's passport, both parents have to appear to sign the application in front of a post office official so they know that one parent isn't trying to steal the child and take him or her out of the country.
It started with us needing to wait in line to get the mail that had piled up while we were out of town. A postman brought out one stack and then said he would go back and check on whether or not there was more. We waited, but he was gone a long time. Another postman came over to ask if we needed help. We explained that our helper had disappeared and that in fact we needed a passport photo. The second postman scowled slightly and went away. The first postman came back without any more mail for us. We explained we needed to file an application for a passport and he went away again. Later I saw him out in the parking lot moving orange cones.
Meanwhile C entertained himself by chatting up everyone who came into the post office, asking them about the quality and quantity of their mail.
The post office is equipped with a camera and a white projection screen for the express purpose of taking passport photos, the only problem is that no one at the post office knows how to operate the camera. A woman came over and made two attempts in which H came out blurry and off centered in both. After that we gave up and left to go to Ortins for the photo but before going we signed on all the pertinent lines so Ken could leave and do other errands. Did I mention it was freezing out? It was. I shelpped the kids back to the car, parked behind Eastmans, and drove to Ortins where C complained that he didn't want to get out of the car and I had to convince him that staying in the car by himself wasn't an option. We go into Ortins and the store is completely empty, no customers, no staff, no one. Beth must have been at the bank. We waited a long time. I could have made off with armfuls of I Love Lucy mugs and Elvis key chains. Finally Gary, the man behind the curtain, came out and in only one try, took a perfect passport photo of H. We pay, leave, and schlepp back to the car. Back inside the post office it's now noon and a large line has formed. C went back to making small talk with post office patrons. H started screaming which got up moved right up to the front of the cue. I handed over the photos and the postman said all that's left is to pay the fees. I said fine and handed over my credit card but alas, no credit cards for the purchase of a passport. We all went back to the car, again parked behind Eastmans, where I retrieved the check book from the glove compartment. Then there was more arguing with C about whether he could or couldn't stay in the car (he couldn't). I went back to the post office, frozen children in tow, to close the deal. This time we went straight to the head of the line without even pretending to be polite.
Afterwards, we three went to Coffee O to celebrate our accomplishment with chai and hot chocolate.
song: How Long is Too Long • artist: The Partridge Family