Effective June 2009 any Canadian crossing into the US will need a Canadian passport. So now the mad dash is on for all of us “North of the Border” people to get a passport before the deadline.

What a pain in the you-know-what! I decided to put the applications in before my kids’ birthdays; once you pass the magic age from kid/teen into adult the cost of an application rises from $38 to $87 ~ not exactly a cheap endeavour, is it? Then, add on the cost of the passport photos and REPEAT photos when the original ones are not quite what they want….

Now, in Canada anyway, if you are going to mail in your application, the Passport office wants you to mail your ORIGINAL proof of citizenship with the paperwork. If you plan to use your driver’s license then pop it in the mail and send it on its way. Original birth certificates too, maybe your medicare card – or your Canadian citizenship card!! Sure, why not? Why not pop the ORIGINAL items in the mail to send to some far-away place and trust they will be sent back within a few weeks. Oops ~ actually longer than a few weeks as you are looking at 4-6 weeks minimum if your application is SENT in.

ARE THEY NUTS?? Exactly what is a person to carry on them on the daily commute to work? I can picture a sympathetic cop, nodding wisely and completely understanding why you are driving without a license….because “it’s in the mail”…!!! In New Brunswick and PEI there is only one; yes you read right, ONE Passport office serving this large geographical area. It’s in Fredericton, New Brunswick’s capital city. As I had the day off today (gee, the kids don’t have school AGAIN) I figured I would take the applications in person, to speed the process and keep the original documentation in my hands. So, I invited Son to come along. Although he pointed out that I would never have left him home for the day with his sister anyway; can you imagine what I’d come home to????

My idea was to rise early, head up to Fredericton and submit our applications, then shop a little on this beautiful, sunny day. As luck has it that’s not quite how it turned out. First: I had to fill out all that *&(#@! paperwork. Times 4. Neat, capital letter printing all of our particulars. Like we’ve stayed ANYWHERE for 2 consecutive years HA ha ha HA HA! I had to dig and tear through the house looking for all the cool little “proofs of citizenship” that were here somewhere ~ I KNEW I’d seen them when we moved…. this all meant that I wasn’t finished the paperwork by this morning. Hubby left for work and I got to finishing the paperwork. Whereupon I discovered that your child’s application has to be signed by BOTH parents. GREAT! Then I didn’t think daughter’s photos would pass muster because her hair covered the sides of her face (which was contrary to the specific guidelines in the helpful guide)….(oh and which I got THE “die” look which even the photographer recognized).

So, off to plan B. Call mother-in-law ask her to be our guarantor, which is the person who guarantees you are who you say you are….confused yet? Grab daughter and head over to Shopper’s Drug Mart for yet another set of passport photos. On the way out the door, tell Son to be ready to go upon my return. Oh yes and call hubby to arrange to meet him at his work at lunch so he can sign the kids’ applications. Right. There goes my “first-thing-in-the-morning-plan”. Not to worry, we can still get up there and drive back before dark. The road between Fredericton and here is fraught with the danger of deer and moose. There are deadly accidents every year where both moose and car crash, resulting in the death of animal and humans. It is not a drive to take lightly especially in the dark.

Daughter’s pictures turn out well and very fast. Mother-in-law admires our photos as she signs her life away…oops, I mean, swears that we are indeed her grateful family. Rush back home to find Son….

…Son?…

….SON??!!

SHIT~ Son still in pjs, wandering into the bathroom to take a shower! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGHHHHHHHHHHHH….

compromise….take a deep breath. Ok, Son takes shower and gets ready while I run into town and get Hubby’s signatures and drive back.

Which I do. Hubby’s eyebrows raise quizzically when he saunters over to the car and doesn’t see Son in the passenger seat. A quick explanation reveals all. I get my signatures and spin off down the highway again….surely now????

Except that it is now noon. Lunchtime. The best meal of the day!

SHIT.

Call daughter to ask if she will eat a McDonald’s happy meal. I know she will because she will be home alone this afternoon while I and Son (dearly loved brother no doubt) race up the highway to Fredericton.

….so. One happy meal for the only happy person today. Regular orders for Son and I. Even though I hate McDonald’s and their sloppy service. Chicken McNuggets for Son WITH Honey-mustard sauce, please.

Race home (doing the speed limit, of course). Drop off happy meal to happy daughter. Trip over all 4 animals who think I’m taking them outside to play. Get Son in car and make sure all paperwork is in the vehicle. Get in.

No Honey-mustard sauce. Why the HELL do they ask what sauce I’d like if they NEVER put it in the freakin’ bag? People, people! Do NOT mess with an Asperger’s meal! Do you know what an 8.0 earthquake feels like? No? Let me tell you then. Picture a big boy. A 6 foot kid pushing a few hundred pounds, shaking in a little car like a Toyota Matrix.

It isn’t pretty, folks.

Are you hearing me, McDonald’s? You didn’t help the situation today!

Crisis adverted. Poured ketchup over anything not in a bag and we were on our way.

Now it is around 1 pm and my head is pounding. I’d taken 1000 mg of Tylenol in an effort to avoid a migraine. It is a long drive when you feel like puking.

The drive takes about an hour and a quarter or so. Son loves this opportunity to put in his music and chat above its volume. I’m trapped. No where to go and no way to hide. The pounding in my head is no longer just from my headache but also from his heavy metal music and tone in his very loud voice. Not to mention the sounds coming from his Nintendo DS game. Mario ~ DIE. Please! Those little noises you make running around the game? They’re killing me buddy! I. can’t. escape. Help.me.

Fredericton is very cold today. I don’t have crummy $2.50 for the parking meter. I can’t even scrape that much change off the floor of the car and my purse. So I have to use my credit card for a lousy $2.50!! Then we can’t find the bloody building for the Passport office! The forms tell me the street number is “44”…yet the lowest number on this side of the river is 78!! There are no signs on any building, nothing to indicate where THE ONLY PASSPORT OFFICE IN THE WHOLE DAMN PROVINCE IS. We wander around, freeze our buns off, until I finally ask some ladies smoking if they know where the passport office is. They are standing outside of a car rental agency, bundled up in the freezing cold, smoking outside the door.

A dead give-away they work in that place. So…don’t car rental people know where everything is? Sure enough, their lips chatter enough to spit out the building the passport office is in. It’s the one we already walked past a couple times. The one about as far away from where we are as we could get…if we TRIED to get as far away as we could!

By the time we reach the Passport office, it is 2:30pm. There aren’t a lot of people in the office. A good sign that we’ll get through quickly. A bunch of people straggle in behind us and I’m glad we got in during a lull. Our turn comes up and we approach the lady at the table. She sorts through all my paperwork and once she puts each application into order with “proof of citizenship” she sends us to another room.

This one is full of people.

Lots of them.

We have to take a number.

The number flashing up on the board is a long, LONG way off from ours.

Everyone is bundled up to their eyeballs in winter clothes. Even the young kids and babies accompanying adults. This is going to hurt.

The kids try their darndest to hold out. They last about 45 minutes before they start to dissolve. I’m SURE all of us adults are ready to wail and gnash our teeth along with the little ones, but since I have to set an example, I smile encouragingly at the two kids nearby who are dissolving into hysterics. Yes, cry harder. Please. Your mother might give up and leave. Your number might be lower than mine and then I will move ahead one space. So kids, you can help me out here.

Because Son has had enough. I try to move our chairs away from the general population, but they are attached to the adjoining chairs. With plastic ties! Is this the government on a budget?! Why twist ties?! Why tie all the chairs together?? Where do you think we are going with them???? So I can’t move. Son gets fidgety, loud and noisy when he’s had enough – and he ain’t no cute 2 year old. I hate being jostled and poked.

So I’m jostled and poked. But I have to encourage Son with happy words and thoughts, when all I really want to do is bang his head with my extremely heavy purse and knock.him.out. We would all enjoy the quiet. Being a good mother I can’t, of course. And who says mothers aren’t the greatest actors???

Finally. FINALLY. Our turn! Yipee how-doody!

Everthing goes rather smoothly.

Until the clerk notices that my husband’s middle name is spelled with 2 “Ls” on some documents and only 1 “L” on others. It doesn’t matter that his Birth Certificate, his Canadian Citizenship AND his expired passport spells his middle name as “P-h-i-l-i-p”. His medicare card and retired military record of service ID card spell his middle name “Phillip”. With 2 “L”s. The clerk disappears to consult with her….superiors?…associates?….hit team?…and returns. One of her associates strongly suggests that hubby fix this problem. yeah…ok – but right.this.very.second? Haven’t you noticed? HE’S NOT HERE!

I wish he were. So does the clerk. I see, in a box behind her, about 40 or so passport applications ready to go. How many of those have also experienced tiny errors and flaws? How many times today has she wanted to take a big stick and just beat the shit out of some applicant like myself? Beside me, Son is acting his Asperger-y self. The clerk’s eyes and mine meet, we smile the same tired smile and connect on some level.

She types in the application with one “L” and we finish up. I am about one of her last clients this day and perhaps that works in my favour. Whatever it is, I’m thankful. It’s been over 1-1/2 hours in this waiting room and I am tired. So is Son. Poorer by over $250.00 (thank you Canadian government) we leave.

Now it is Son’s turn. There are a couple of stores he’s had his eye on and we ain’t leaving without checking them out. I drag my sore feet in and out of stores, looking at collectable action figures, admire comic books, confer over the wisdom of spending money on different items. Outside it is getting dark out and I’m tired.

Son wants supper and wants to visit the mall. Off we go. I grab a grocery cart and throw our coats in it and use it to hold me up as we wander through this mall that seems to stretch on and on and on…. we even peruse Walmart and its bin of movies for sale. The same movies that are for sale at the Walmart where I live. Except we are in a backwards Walmart and that seems to interest Son as well as the selection available here. This Walmart is a big store. I just didn’t plan to walk so many kilometers today! I was sure we’d be back well before supper and kind of relax at home in the evening.

Hardy har har. Ho ho ho.

After walking every step of the mall, it is time to eat. Then we hit Chapters and after examining those wretched backwards books, the Japanese Anime series, we leave without a single purchase. That has to be a record for me. leave a book store without some kind of magazine or book? Yeeks; we must be sick! And tired!

It’s now black out. It’s freezing; the temperature reads -17 degrees celsius and the car is low on gas. So am I but what’s going to rev me up?

Oh crap, not that damn DS and that damn metal music ~ just drive a drill straight into my head, why dontcha? Fortunatley Son is feeling the effects of a long day, so the music at least is turned off. Then it occurs to him that tomorrow starts a new Semester and that means new classes and different courses. Off he goes, stressed to the max.

We drive home in the dark. That stresses ME out to the max. While I don’t see any moose tonight; there is a dead animal, like a deer, on the side of the road. It wasn’t there on the way up earlier today so it’s recent. There’s a car backing up on the highway, presumably either to see exactly what the animal was….or…what? to bring supper home? (I know! I know! Bad road-kill joke. I’m tired people!)

I drive fairly slow so I can scan the road and forest beyond. Son finally conks out next to me and I leave the heat on full blast to keep him warm. My feet are frying in my good, warm winter boots but I had the sense to take off my winter coat before driving. Son is cozy and sleeping so what does it matter that my feet are melting?

We got home at 9pm.

Nine o’clock at night. In the dark.

In the Cold.

That’s it.

I’m going back to work tomorrow – it’s a LOT more restful and not quite so many kilometres on the feet!

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