Everything seemed proper. I put the address, 1100 whilshire blvd. in my nav system. I awoke at half four, I had the largest cocoa from starbucks in my hand and was driving down the highway at six am. It’s a 3 1/2 hour drive (without traffic). Plenty of time for an appointment window of 10:45 – 11:15.
I love the drive. I love soaking in the ocean view.
There was traffic (of course, but I arrived at the address and found parking at the lot behind the building just as the website said I would. I went up through the garage elevators to a beautiful lobby. Very formal, with wood everywhere. There was a reception desk with pay for your parking machine next to it. I set my basket down and waited my turn to check in at reception.
The gentleman ahead of me had two suitcases with him. There was some kind of problem. They were saying “you can’t go up.” He protested and they said “We’ve been instructed not to let you up.” I thought he had missed his timeframe for his designated appointment. When he had walked off to use his cell phone the receptionist motioned me over. “I have an appointment to get a passport.” I said. “You’re at the wrong place.” I pulled out the paper with the address. “I’ve left off a zero?” I said with disbelieve. “It 45 minutes down whilshire.”
As I went to pay my parking, the security guard said there was a 15 minute grace period. I didn’t need to pay. I hadn’t been there that long. I thanked him and returned to my car in the garage. TICK TOCK. Ten minutes after ten now!
I pulled up to the garage exit gate and slipped in my ticket to the machine. TICK TOCK. TICK TOCK. “Pay at machine” the machine read. Aye yia yia. The car behind me backed up as I did the same. I found a parking spot and dashed back up to the lobby. “I need to pay for parking” I said as the receptionist looked at me in question. She pulled another ticket out of her drawer and said “use this one”. TICK TOCK. “Thank you.” I said and inquired after a rest room, as six hours and a large cocoa demanded it. “The basement level, through the green doors.”
The basement level was on the way to the garage. I got out of the elevator and saw no green doors. I walked to the corner and turned, and asked a worker in a maintenance uniform for the restroom. He didn’t speak english and claimed not to understand it. TICK TOCK. TICK TOCK. I abandoned the search and went down to the exit level of the garage.
Second go at the exit gate. “Not Possible” was the message. TICK TOCK. TICK. TOCK. My eyes begin to leak as I back up and part the car a third time. Well familiar with the path to the elevators and lobby now, the blur from my leaking eyes didn’t impede my swift progress. TICK TOCK.
I approached the receptionist and said “It said not possible. I just need to pay for my parking.” She said “No, I’ll let you out. Just push the button on the left side.” TICK TOCK (goodness! It’s nice they don’t want me to pay, but time is of the essence! TICK TOCK. TICK TOCK. TICK TOCK!)
At the gate the second button I find to press magically opens the gate to release me to my freedom.
With the correct address in my nav system my car swooped in on to the highway towards the correct address. TICK TOCK. Not much time to get there, but the nav says it’s 30 minutes away. I won’t make the early part of my appointment window, but I’ll still be in the window. Right? TICK TOCK
“Accident Investigation Site expect delays on 405 North.” Really? Aye Yia Yia. TICK TOCK. TICK TOCK. TICK TOCK. Driving. Driving. Driving. TICK TOCK. TICK TOCK. The exit! Like a beacon of light! I am totally going to make my window! Right?
There it is! The Federal Building. The sign is nearly as big as the Hollywood sign. This makes soooooooooooo much more sense. I enter the drive way feeling so much better. Hey, look! This is So Cool! There is a post box right in the middle divide of the drive way. I have letters to mail. How convenient is this? =)tick tock.
Parking is free! I easily find one of the elusive free spaces. I lug my basket of paperwork through the long trek across the parking lot, up the many stairs and notice the post office on the left, the cafeteria on the right and a Very, Very Long line to get into the building for the passport appointment. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. 10:45. 30 minutes. Totally time to use the rest room in the cafeteria. tick tock.
As I enter the cafeteria I see the men’s room is closed for cleaning. =/ and mine? Open for business! Yes! I DO lead a charmed life. I am brave enough to glance in the mirror and see an old woman, clearly upset by something so very, very important not having gone smoothly when all preparations were carefully taken. Sigh…........ “I am dangerous on my own in the world” the thought bubbles involuntarily float above my head. I make the thought bubble vanish and picked up my basket of paperwork, proud I could carry the heavy substantiation of my case all this way. tick tock.
I waited in line for passport checkin. I had was confused about my appointment number, but when given a hint on the length of the number and what today’s appointments number sequence starts with I find it. I’m given permission to get in one of the airport type security lines. Yippee! tick tock.
Waiting in a line that doesn’t move. tick tock. Waiting. tick tock. Waiting. tick tock. Inching forward. tick tock. Snakeing my way round the building. tick tock. How can this be this slow? TICK TOCK. TICK TOCK. Holy cow. How long can this line take? How slow is the going? How many people are ahead of me? TICK TOCK. TICK TOCK. TICK TOCK. Finally I can see the front of the line. There’s a dozen in front of me. It’s gone 11:00 am. Officially late for my appointment now. Grateful I panned to be early, especially now that I am late. TICK TOCK.
Number two in line now. The security guy that brings out the grey bucket trays says to the woman in front of me and myself “You two are together, okay.” “okay” she says. “I don’t feel together. I feel a mess” I say to her. She laughs and tells me of her documentation journey, which includes having to get a drivers license. I know I never have to look far to see someone worse off than myself and am grateful for a charmed life. TICK TOCK.
Shoes off, cell phone, purse and basket all smooshed in to the grey bucket tray. I set off the metal detector as I walked through it. laughing inside. Of course I did! I take off my Dad’s ring to the echo of security saying “That won’t do it” and walk successfully through the metal detector. Whew! TICK TOCK.
Re-shoe-ed and re-loaded with paperwork and purse I finally am waved towards the actual passport office! I wait in line to check in with reception. The security line regulates the flow of passport customers. There is only one couple ahead of me at reception. My turn! I set my basket down, and look at the time 11:15 exactly! PERFECT TIMING! tick…..........
I show my airline ticket, my confirmation number and identification and pass through to the next screening station I show my airline ticket, I show my identification. I explain the situation. The screener mulls it over a bit. He decides to make up both the new and renewal application. The person at the next step will need to decide. He says “This is exactly what I want you to say to the person at the window. No more, no less.” I thank him and take the number he gives me and find a seat to bide my time in. I notice, at last, the clock is silent and a smile spreads across my face.
No cell phones are allowed to be powered on. I write a list of good things about today. It is a long list, to be sure. I listen to the television talk about the university football rape scandal. I watch news so rarely, so negative things won’t go into my head and live there. I find the program interesting. The students support of the coach that didn’t report his knowledge when what was witnessed was reported to him. I found it interesting that the focus was on him and not other people, parties to the situation, one that keeps his job, when others lose theirs. A handsome younger man sits down next to me and strikes up a conversation with me. I’m grateful for a reason to take my eyes from the train wreck type tractor beam of the television.
We have a lovely conversation. He asks what number I have and I tell him. I can tell he thinks I am much younger than I am. I somehow feel flattered by it, knowing I shouldn’t. He is not only, younger and handsome. He has impressive credentials with a wonderful journey ahead of him. I am able to share stories of China. But it is China 1990 that I know. Was he even born then.? ;} It is pretty much my imagination, the flattery of the attention. I am so flattered I don’t notice my number being called. I’m surprised he remembers my number and tells me its my number just called. I notice how nice it is to have someone look after me. Its so rare. He tells me what window called me and my attention shifts to the task at hand. Or hands as I lift my heavy basket of paperwork and head to window 15.
She smells good, I notice, as her perfume wafts under the glass separating us along with the ventilation. She doesn’t smile as I set my basket of paperwork on the counter. I push the two application packets an earlier screener prepared and I said exactly what he told me to say. No more. No less. Tick tock. I can hear the clock again. I am so close! As she asks for paperwork and more paperwork and questions me, I notice I am also so far. tick tock. I inquire about her perfume, telling her how nice it smells. White Diamonds, it is. More paperwork. More explanation. She makes a decision. Yippee! Success!
I can come back and get my passport on …............ Monday.
I so thought I would get my passport that day. =/ Tomorrow is a holiday. I didn’t arrange for Monday off. I can neither stay nor return on Monday really. I explain the length of the drive in hopes of a different response. She is Lot’s Wife. A pillar of Salt. She is frozen in her decision. Magical charm dust invisibly swirls around her. She offers to post it, expedited mail. I graciously accept. TICK TOCK.
It will go in the post Monday or Tuesday she says. I try one more time, saying my flight is Friday morning. It will arrive in time, she assures me. I’m grateful I went to The City of Angels, rather then the City by the Bay. Mail is much quicker to me from here than there. TICK TOCK.
I am dismissed and am relieved this point of the late afternoon as finally arrived. I walk out of the building thinking I have 24 hours before my flight to cancel the tickets and use them within a year. Am I remembering that correctly? I’ll check my memory this weekend. TICK TOCK, the ticking returns.
I won’t need to really know or make a decision until after I pick up my mail on Wednesday. Now that this important part of my trip is over….......... on to laughter and fun!