Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pass(port) it Forward

It's unusual for incompetence to result in something beneficial. But it actually happened to me. At the State Department, of all places.

My diplomatic passport was set to expire in a few months. I submitting an application for a new one; however, the woman at the window told me, in lieu of my travel orders, my HR Officer would have to submit a form on my behalf. I emailed my HRO (after spending considerable time tracking down who my HRO is supposed to be). She replied that because I will be in training for a year, I don't need a diplomatic passport. Request denied.

I relayed this information to the passport office and requested they return my soon-to-expire passport and cancel my application. They emailed me to confirm that's what I wanted to do. Yes, I assured them. A few days later I went to the passport office to pick up my old passport. In the envelope was my old passport - cancelled. And a brand new passport good for 5 years. Huzzah! Asking no questions, I quickly grabbed the passports and walked out.

Perhaps it wasn't incompetence that led to my getting a new passport without all the "required" documentation. Part of me would like to think a civil servant working in a windowless room in some unknown annex building took pity on a stranger with incomplete paperwork.

I know some State people whose entire worldview would collapse in on itself if they discovered that the standard forms we are taught to revere don't, in fact, hold magical powers.