Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Passport to boredom

It snowed last night

With just over three weeks until London Fashion week I figured it was finally time to apply for a new passport. It would be one less hurdle should I decide that I'd want to go to London last minute. This season during fashion week Andrew Majtenyi, the fashion designer, is having his line shown at the Canadian consulate right next to Trafalgar square. It would be great to shoot that venue as well as a world of fun just to see London again.

I woke up at 8:00am to leave the house at 9am, just missing the moring rush hour downtown. I was supposed to meet up with Leanna at the McDonalds at the Eaton Centre. It was the only place I could think of where we could sit down and wait in a warm environment until the other showed up.

Just after getting my order of combo two, the sausage and egg McMuffin with orange juice and a hash brown, my phone rang. It was a text message from Leanna saying that she had changed her mind and was going to meet me later on. I slowly ate my meal taking in the surroundings. It comprised mostly of people reading the morning paper while eating.

The long wait

The passport office was filled with people waiting around. The first mini line up was to do a precursory look over your documents to make sure everything was in order. Once approved you were given a ticket with a number on it and allowed to wait with all the others applying for their passport.

The mini line was about 20 minutes and the sitting around waiting took an hour and 15 minutes. It was a long time to sit around without a book. I had noticed that the numbers being called were a bit mixed up. Some tickets started with a B or C. I wondered if this was so you couldn't estimate the wait time, leave to go get a cup of coffee or food, and come back. Food wasn't allowed in the waiting room or cell phones.

What kind of number is this?

To help pass the time I decided to just sit and listen to all the different sounds. I would close my eyes to help concentrate and every now and then would open my eyes to write down the sounds I heard on a piece of paper. There was a point where the lady sitting next to me asked what I was doing. I told her and she joined in. We sat there for an hour pointing out the different sounds to each other.

Here's the list...
  • Babies crying and being shushed by their mothers.
  • jazz music coming from a radio within the passport office
  • a person complaining how long the line was
  • tapping of toes, not to the music, but as a form of impatience
  • the faint sound of the machine sucking the recycled air through the office
  • rustling of newspapers, documents and forms
  • yawning (that was me)
  • pacing (some of the people that couldn't sit were walking around in small circles)
  • various murmuring
  • ring of the elevator doors just before they opened up to let in more people
  • the beeping of a photocopier in the distance
All in all it was an interesting way to pass the time with nothing better to do. When my number finally showed up on the LED board I was almost sad to go. I waved good bye to the lady and went to the booth to get my passport application looked at.

The guy at the booth was very pleasant. I found the passport office much like all the other government offices I've visited to be drab and life sucking. Maybe it was the lights. I then thought that it would be one thing to do what I just did waiting for almost two hours but it's another thing entirely to have to work in this environment the whole day and then have to come back to work the next day and the next.

Being the guy looking over the application of various people all day would probably be draining as well. Especially if you had to deal with all the people complaining that the wait was so long... blah, blah, blah. I let the government worker know that I appreciated the effort of them being there and putting up with the post 911 swell of crap. That seemed to put a bit of energy into him as he zipped through my application. Before I knew it I was given a piece of paper telling me when I could come back to pick up my passport.

The cost of the passport is $87 in which they courier it to you. Should you want to pick it up it costs $10 more. I would have figured it would be cheaper because you wouldn't have to pay for postage but apparently not.

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