I can honestly say I am glad that this morning’s adventures are not a daily occurrence for me.
My oldest daughter, Caitlin, is heading for Japan in January with the Digital Media Animation department from Huntington University. So, we need to procure a passport.
Step one: Call Clymer, NY, post office for the low-down on what documents are needed to get said passport. The Clymer office does everything including take the photo.
The woman there, Jennifer, was extremely helpful in giving me the list of things necessary for Caitlin to prove she indeed is who she says she is.
Documents needed: Birth Certificate and valid driver’s license or state-issued photo ID.
We have the birth certificate, but because of Caitlin’s lack of desire to learn to drive, she has no driver’s license. Until now, there was no need for a state-issued photo ID, so we never tried to get one. Her college photo ID is, unfortunately, not acceptable.
Step two: Go online and find out how to get a photo ID.
Documents needed: Birth Certificate (check), current W-2 (check), and social security card (check, or so I thought).
After an exhaustive search of our safe and filing cabinet, Caitlin’s social security card is nowhere to be found.
Step three: Go online and find out how to get a replacement social security card. Sounds easy, right? The online form itself was easy. Fill out the form, click to pay the $48 service fees, and I’m done, right?
The website then asked me to print the form and either mail certified copies of the required identification documents along with the form, or visit my local social security office, which happens to be in Meadville, PA.
What are the required documents, you ask? A valid driver’s license or state-issued photo ID.
At this point I was ready to bang my head on my laptop.
Step four: Call Meadville social security office and explain my predicament. Megan, from the Meadville office, was aghast that I paid $48 online for a service that they offer absolutely free.
Head-banging was now imminent.
She did, however, offer a solution to the problem. I could go to Caitlin’s doctor and get a letter from him stating her name, date of birth, and that she is a current patient. The letter had to be hand-signed in ink by the doctor. Caitlin could then bring this document with her and apply in person for a replacement card.
Step five: Drive to doctor’s office and ask for said letter. Office personnel chuckled and shook their heads, but said they’d get the letter to me within the week.
Step six: Return home and pour an enormous cup of coffee, take a few deep breaths, and laugh at the whole situation.
I am happy to report that each government employee I spoke with was kind and courteous, as well as very helpful. Of course, I was polite first (albeit exasperated), and I doubt everyone with whom they have daily dealings is quite as affable.
So, for anyone out there contemplating getting a passport or replacement documents of any kind, take a lesson from my experience. Don’t pay online until you’ve spoken to the local office to find out if you can get the service for free, and don’t expect any quick or easy solutions. And, of course, have a sense of humor before you even start.