06 June 2014

Smile ...or Not

Well, my passport application is on its way.  
I had been warned there might be some complication in the County Clerk's office and this proved to be the case. My application was handled by a well-dressed, elaborately coiffed, overweight and unsmiling young woman. Her demeanor was ironic given the "Smile - God Loves You" sign prominently displayed on her desk.

In fact, she smiled only three times during my visit. The first merriment took the form of a tiny curling of her lips. My application packet included a replacement birth certificate and an original court document issued when I changed my name 40 years ago. "Is this the only birth certificate you have? This looks new," she commented, a tiny, slightly sinister smile playing at the corners of her mouth.

"Yes, it is a replacement document. The original document was lost."

"And what is this?" she asked, examining the name change document. The expression on her face suggested she detected a strong, unpleasant odor. I explained the document to her.

"Well, I hope you know if they have any questions about this, they'll be calling you. When are you making your trip?"

"I'm tentatively planning for Christmas. And questions are not a problem:  I would expect them to contact me if anything is unclear in the packet."

She smiled fully then. "Well, I've never seen one of these with an application. So I hope you know..."

The way things were going, I wasn't surprised that my driver's license also threw her for a little loop. It was issued in CA and whenever I present it as ID in MS, some discussion ensues. Everyone is hard pressed to understand why surrendering my CA license and replacing it with a MS version wasn't a first order of business after arriving. She suggested the application reviewer may contact me since the address on my application is different from the one on my driver's license.

As she checked my application, completed at home, she realized it was an old form. "You're gonna have to fill all this in again on the new form," she said...and smiled for the third time.

No additional displays of pleasure appeared from that point on. The phone rang and she engaged in a brief, apparently annoying conversation with someone in a different office. A co-worker returned from lunch and they exchanged annoyance about another co-worker not in the room at the moment.

Copy machine "issues" necessitated two attempts to produce copies of the original documents for me. She survived the hassle, apparently forgetting that it was God's love for her that made eventual success possible.

In spite of everything, I was smiling as I left the building. And not because God Loves Me. I am one step closer to Brazil.

I did NOT suggest that she flip her sign around so that it faces her instead of visitors to the office. Seems like she needs the reminder as much as anyone.