As you may have heard, dodo and I went to Chicago so that she may take care of her passport at the Chinese Consulate. First off, if you have never been to one of these kinds of places, do not expect to have a red carpet welcome. The people working at this particular establishment would have you think they are doing you a divine service by showing up to their jobs.
I might as well start from the top with this. When we arrived only a few minutes early, we were the 4th in a small line of individuals waiting for the doors to open. We soon were the 4th in a large line of people waiting for the jerks in the office to open the doors late. When they finally did open the door, all you heard was the door unlock and it opened for a span of a second, evidently to let people know it was open, and they then left it closed and waited for everyone to come in and prop the door open for them. Nobody bothered saying, “sorry we’re late,” etc. Real classy people.
Also, a month before we even had to come to this place, dodo had sent her passport in to these hammerheads for renewal, but it was returned saying that so and so criteria was not met. When she tried to contact them for information, she got the classic runaround: “call this number, fax that number, blah blah blah.”
We finally make it up to the window in the only line where someone is staying in his seat for more than five minutes at a time, and he decides to refer us to some lady behind a door, which in itself was an additional wait, and then this lady tells us that dodo needs her picture taken to update. Fortunately the Walgreens across the street did passport photos.
After getting the photographs, we were back waiting in the same line and when we got to the window for the second time now, the dung-grasper says that we needed to photocopy two pages in the passport for them. This was ridiculous for two reasons. First of all, it was not in the renewal instructions, but most of all, these sloths had the passport for a month when it was sent in, and THEY could not make the copy themselves? Wouldn’t want to sprain your wrist on the copy machine lid huh?
So we made the copies, and guess what? We are back in the same line, and we get to the same window with the same clown, and he starts rattling off some trash-talk to dodo in chinese. He hands her a slip and she explains that the guy in front of us forgot his pickup slip and these invalids want her to run it out for them. So she tries to catch up with the guy, but she is not fast or loud enough. And of course the people behind us are waiting for this event to cease. When dodo comes back, I decide to go out and do it since I really had no business there myself. I spot the guy well over a block away now, and start running. As I crossed one street and was at a full sprint, two gentlemen come out of a doorway and I literally bowl one of them down. I finally get this guy his slip in between apologizing for ramming the other guy and make my way back to the consulate.
When I come back in, it’s time for more good news. There are 3 choices for us to get the renewed passport and they all suck. First, we pick it up in 5 days. Ummm…. that would mean driving back to Chicago on a weekday. No way. Second, we could have them mail it to us right? Well, only if you furnish a self-addressed stamped envelope, not so bad right? Oh yeah, but you can only pay for them to mail it to you with money orders. Seriously. We had the cash right in their ugly faces, but NOOOOOO, it HAS to be a money order if they SEND it. Terrific. Third, we could come and pick it up tomorrow! Great right? Well of course there will be an extra $30 charge if they do it overnight. What choice did we have, the leeches got their $30 from us.
It just goes to show that people with federal jobs have no obligation to go above and beyond their ordinary routine to make things easier for anybody. So next time you are in a consulate trying to go somewhere in this world, remember there will be some clown behind a window ready to hold you up to the best of his ability.