My passport debacle continues. 6 more frustrating barriers.

My friend Glen, me and my tattered and damaged passport.

I recently wrote a post about the 10 barriers of me getting passports for myself and my daughter Willow. If you want to read about the bizarre steps I have gone through so far, check it out here:

Well, the story continues!

My wife offered to take my newly-turned three year old back to the drug store in the daytime to get her passport picture taken. Predictably the same cheap digital camera was producing the same red-eye effect, and the employee struggled for half an hour until she gave up and asked a more senior employee to come over and help. This employee had the knowledge of how to reduce the flash intensity to get rid of red-eye, she also opened the blinds to let more natural light in. After about 45 minutes there was success!

No disrespect at all towards these employees, I’m just disappointed that the drug store chain doesn’t set their employees up for success by training them and getting them the appropriate equipment. This results in setting up their customers for failure as well, this story is a testament to that. (Barrier 11)

The good news is I now had both Willow’s and my passport photos. I was no longer resigned, I mustered up the energy to attempt getting our passports done for the 2nd time this week. T’was the eve of Christmas Eve, I drove the hour to Fredericton and got to the Passport Canada office. (Barrier 12)

The triage commissionaire gave me a slip of paper with a letter and a number on it. In about 15 minute I was called. I nervously approached the lady behind the glass. She asked for my forms. I handed them to her.

“Oh…you have a damaged passport form, I am sorry, I am not equipped to handle this form, I only do new passport applications, the commissionaire gave you the wrong letter and number, you will have to go back and get a number that gets you into the right line, ask her for the one that starts with the letter B.” (Barrier 13)

“Umm, ok.” I meekly responded.

I returned to the commissionaire, she gave me a new letter and number for the right cue. After another 15 minutes I made it to my destination! I nervously smiled and handed the Passport Canada lady my pile of forms, photos and old passports. She started by getting a magnifying glass out and examining Willow’s passport photos, you know, the ones we got at the drugstore. She looked at me with a soft and sympathetic look and said:

“I’m sorry Mr. Hemmings, your daughters photos have three missing pixels… see, take a close look. But don’t worry, I have a form you can take back to the drug store you bought these from saying that they were rejected, this was you can get your $14.00 back! That’s good news right?” (Barrier 14)

“Umm, ok.” I meekly responded.

She then looked at my own application and photos. The photos passed the sniff test, until she looked at who signed the back as my guarantor. It was my wife’s signature. But the problem is I forgot to get my wife to sign the guarantor section on the application, so it was not a complete application. Of course my wife was back in Saint John, so I decided to give up and go home. (Despite it being my own fault, still a barrier…Barrier 15)

Thankfully I had to drop some lenses off at the New Brunswick Filmmaker’s Co-op. It dawned on me that I could get another guarantor from Fredericton. The great folks at the co-op called one of the members and old friend of mine Glen to come to the office with his passport to get me out of the bind (these are the perks of being a member of the New Brunswick Filmmaker’s Co-op).

Glen hooked me up by filling out and signing the correct Guarantor portion of the form. I gave him a hug and humbly thanked him. He left. A half an hour later I realized that he didn’t sign the back of the photo, the exact opposite issue I had with my wife. (Barrier 16)

I asked Tony at the Co-op where I could find Glen, he told me that Glen is almost always found at a particular Cafe. Tony gave me the directions on a sticky note, I found the cafe, and Glen. He signed the photos and I ran to the Passport Office.

My application was accepted. Willow’s will have to be another day.

To be continued?

In the meantime, let’s look once again at how Estonia is helping remove barriers for their citizens to access government services…including passport renewal! Check this film of ‘An Ordinary Day of an e-Estonian.’

And Check out what New Brunswick is doing to start addressing these issues. http://www.nbplus.org

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