Thursday, 2 October 2008

She's Back!!!

I promised you that the world could not seem so terribly rosy to me for very long. At heart, I am a cynic and while there is good stuff to be thankful for, I still find the levels of stupidity in this world unbelievable. Case in point: the federal government and all of the satellite services that it runs. I think that I have finally figured out where all of my tax dollars go-to the employment of hundreds of thousands of people that do absolutely nothing for their paychecks!! Here is my latest example.

I have remarked a few times that the time has come for the husband and I to renew our passports. Here in the Great White North, our passports need to be renewed every five years. Why not ten years as is customary in most other civilized places in the world? Well, my guess is that it is a money grab to garner $87.00 from citizens every five years. After my latest experience, I would gladly pay the $87 bucks, just to avoid the bureaucracy!!

It is true that the passport renewal process has been streamlined. (supposedly!!) The forms can now be downloaded online and filled in on the computer, before being printed off. The forms have been reduced from 5 pages to 2 and guarantors no longer have to sign off on the completed forms. Anyone with a valid Canadian passport can now act as a guarantor. Not only that, the Canadian government now allows people to mail in the completed forms along with the old passport and the new photos. (I understand why someone would want to simplify their lives by mailing, but I seldom trust civil service bureaucracies and the idea that something might be missing or untoward on the forms was enough to dissuade me from mailing. I simply do not have the time to go through the process again before my December traveling deadline.) And so it was that the husband and I made our way to a Service Canada post in order to drop off our completed forms. (I should mention that given my anal retentive behaviour, I proofed these forms several times, made certain that the photos were in order, included the old passports, clipped all of the aforementioned together and placed each individual form in a separate envelope!!) We were told that Service Canada was merely a drop-off outlet that allowed you to leave the material, much like you would if you mailed or couriered the stuff. We were misled. Service Canada is not a drop off!! It is a satellite office that deals with everything from passports to social assistance to unemployment insurance to social insurance numbers. As the husband and I walk in the door, we are met with a cacophony of screaming. The woman directly in front of us in line is yelling at the poor civil servant behind the reception desk. It seems that the dork who is yelling is upset because the woman behind the desk won't accept her application because she has used herself as a guarantor. In other words, she is vouching for herself that she has know herself for 15 years. OY!! Finally, a quiet and decent man, steers the husband and I out of the firing line and asks to see our applications. He carefully examines each application and when he is satisfied that we have everything in order, (I told you, I am ANAL!!) he enters us into the system. He returns it all to us and we are a bit stunned. The husband inquires as to what is going on and he is told that we should take a seat and we will be called to a booth in about 30-45 minutes!!! HUH??? Tell me again how this has streamlined the process? I could have waited at the main office for less time than this. Neither one of us has an hour to kill, but we also realize that we are in a no-win situation. If we leave now, we will have to start the whole f@#$*&g thing all over again, so we bite our tongues and sit. There are 10 windows with civil servants behind them and only 2 have customers. Several of the workers are chatting with one another and several others are collecting lottery investments from their co-workers. (Last night the jackpot was 35 million!!) 40 minutes later we are called.

We sit in front of a very young and very capable woman. She is so capable in fact, that we are interrupted at least 3 times so that she might answer questions from others. Once again, our applications are totally scrutinized. (Why did man number 1 have to go over the stuff if woman number 1 was going to repeat the process? Maybe, because it gave man number 1 something to do and get paid for?) She stamps shit and puts stickers on shit and finally comes back to us and wants payment. It is comforting to know that the government of Canada will accept all methods of payment, from VISA, Mastercard, AMEX, INTERAC, direct withdrawal, cheque or even cash!! No credit crisis for my government!!! The man must be paid. We leave a few minutes later armed with a receipt and a promise that the passports will be sent within 5 weeks. In the meantime, I cannot travel outside of the country, because I have given them all of my valid ID!!

My recommendations? Go early in the morning to a Passport Canada office with all of your items intact and hope for the best. There is no good way to do this. The government of Canada has you in whatever way you turn. There has to be a better way!! Somebody show me that direction!!

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