Out of the office (by the skin of my teeth)

“That’s where I got my passport photos mum, isn’t it?” said Emmie who is five, as we walked past our local Fuji photo shop last Friday.

“Yep, that’s right – we’ll have to make sure we all bring our passports when we go on holidays next week, won’t we!” I replied.

“Do you have a passport mum?” she asked.

“Me? Of course I have a …. woah. Hold on. Do I have a passport …” Suddenly, memories of getting a new passport a few months before I got married started to flood back. And I got married almost ten years ago. So, with maths that even a five-year-old could manage, it was clear that there was a problem.

One frantic check and four hundred phone-calls later, I had established the following:

  • My passport had expired in March.
  • You need a valid passport to take a ferry to France.
  • The passport office couldn’t give me an appointment until Wednesday, and then it would take five days to get the passport – except I was due to travel on Friday.
  • The emergency facility allowed for appointments one day before travel only, and with no guarantees – this later proved to be incorrect, but at that point, panic set in.

Three hours later, I was back down in the same Fuji shop getting passport photos taken (and they are truly hideous – I look like I’ve just been arrested – but beggars can’t be choosers), organising forms and getting Garda signatures (the witnessing process still baffles me but if a Garda is happy to sign that he knows me, I’m not arguing).

My family was a little less sympathetic to my plight than I expected. Emmie, the catalyst for discovering the problem, was quite accepting of my fate:

“Mum, if we have to go without you, I know we’ll come home to find you soaking wet from crying – actually, I’d say the house will be flooded after two weeks of your tears, won’t it mum?”

Em, thanks.

And my husband sent me an email later that afternoon, purporting to be a potential Gumtree ad:

Wanted Urgently–

Short term position for new Mammy.

Must have CURRENT passport as position will involve travel.  Willingness to drive in France a plus . Candidates with an ability to go into 5th gear will be looked upon favourably by the hiring manager.

Must be experienced in getting 3 children to bed while Dad watches World Cup in campsite bar.

Bonus points for :

Reading a map

Packing light

I wasn’t ready to laugh just yet.

But then I too became somewhat ambivalent about it. As I listened to the kids complaining during a twenty-minute journey at the weekend, moaning that it was taking too long, plan B started to sound more and more appealing: if the passport didn’t arrive by Friday, I’d follow on by air, and meet them at the campsite. A two-hour flight on my own instead of a 28 hour journey by car? Maybe it was time to start hoping for another passport-office strike.

(to my husband: I’m kidding, I can’t wait to travel for 28 hours in a car with our kids, no really)

But there was no strike, and happily, at 3pm this afternoon, one sleep before our holiday, I got my new passport. And I don’t need any more punishment; living with the hideous photos for the next ten years will be penance enough.

office mum photo: passport

See you in two weeks!

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18 thoughts on “Out of the office (by the skin of my teeth)”

    1. Yes – she had really been thinking it through, but wasn’t volunteering to stay home with me…

    1. Thanks Aedín! And to be fair, they were FAB. I could have kissed the woman who handed me my new passport. Actually that’s probably why they’re behind glass partitions…

    1. Nobody, not even my husband, will ever see the photos. Think opening credits of Orange is the New Black

    1. thank you – just back now, and was thinking yesterday, as the passport control lady in France scrutinised my passport, how petrified I would have been if I was over there on the expired one!

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