Saturday, June 02, 2007

Letters . . . We Get Letters . . . We Get Letters Each and Ev-er-y Day

Hi Hal,

As one of your six readers, thanks for the passport info. If people are going somewhere this summer and haven't applied yet, good luck! One of my neighbors applied in February, is traveling next week, and it just came last week. We were originally planning to go to Berlin this week, glad we changed it to end of July...Alina applied for her renewal in April, and we paid extra for the 4 week expediting. Well, it's past six weeks and still no passport.When I check the status, it tells me if I'm traveling within 2 weeks, I should call a number. If it comes to that, I'll know to call Nick's office!

The process itself is more trouble than it should be if you have to appear in person. Since Alina's previous passports were issued when she was 2 and 6, she had to appear in person. I think the photos look enough like her, but she has changed just a bit! We tried calling the First Colony PO for weeks to schedule the required appointment. The phone was ALWAYS busy. One day I got so mad, I camped on redial until it finally rang. Then no one picked it up. So much for First Colony. Their only saving grace is the automatic mailing machines...there's always a line out the door if you need personal service. What are all these people mailing? But I digress...

Anyway, we decided to go to the more user friendly Richmond PO which had passport hours and no appointments. The first trip we arrived 1 hour past the 9 am opening. The people in line kindly laughed at us and told us if we wanted to get in, we had to be there by 8 am if we wanted to be one of the lucky 20 or 25 people who are processed each day. So we went back on a TAKS day, when she didn't have to be at school until 11:15. We arrived at 8:15 and were about 15th in line. I talked two people ahead of us into going to the County Clerk's office in beautiful downtown Richmond. A helpful PO employee supplied the phone number from memory, and they called to find there were only 2 people in line there. So if you have photos already, the County Clerk is the place to go. Down to 13th in line, we got in at 9, signed in, and were processed by 10:30. Very friendly and efficient service once you got inside of Oz.

So helpful hints from someone who's just been there...
-If you live in Sugar Land, don't bother with First Colony PO.
-Get photos ahead of time, download the form from the website, and take it all to the County Clerk's office first thing one morning. This is the most expedient option.
-If you can't get photos ahead, go to the Richmond PO down near the George Library, but get there early and be prepared to stand in line until the 9 am opening of the passport office. It goes pretty fast once you get inside.
-What happens next is out of your control. The wheels of government move slowly. Keep track of time after you've passes fast. You don't want to be one of the many people lately who have been finally getting their passports moments before they leave on their trips, with help from their Congress(wo)men.

You and Sara have fun at the debate party Sunday...we're previously booked...for Spamalot!

No comments: