Who Needs Stress?

Imagine a lady who worked hard all her life and was finally able to retire.  She’s not rich by any stretch of the imagination, scraping by on what she gets from social security.

Her days are spent helping others.  When someone dies, she knows just what the family might need and takes over a bag of supplies (practical things like toilet paper, paper plates/cups/napkins, and the extra garbage bags with pre-paid disposal tags that come in so handy when dozens of relatives suddenly descend on your household).  When someone is in the hospital or sick, she takes meals to the family.  Four days a week she volunteers at a food bank, handing out food to those who can’t quite make ends meet.

Once a year she travels, at her own expense, to spend a week volunteering in a plant that packages soup mix to ship to starving people around the world.

Now, this isn’t to say that she’s perfect.  As she’s aged, she’s decided that it’s dangerous to drive as fast as the speed limit permits (she claims that it’s a maximum limit after all – you’re not required to go that fast).  She’s mastered the art of driving her children crazy.  Despite her imperfections, she tries to be a good citizen and help when she can.

An opportunity came up for this lady to travel to Central America with a group of friends.  An aid organization in one of the countries has two weeks worth of work for the group, and this lady is excited to have this new chance to help even more people.  There’s just one catch.  A passport is needed.

Dutifully, this woman completed the required paperwork, had her picture taken, and jumped through all the hoops so that she can take this trip.  In the mail, instead of the desired document, she received notification that more information would be required.  Although her application contained all the necessary information, our government, hard at work to protect us, decided to flag this application and ask for more details.

More detail:  Do you know the address of every place you have ever lived?  When you come up with all those addresses, can you agree with family members about the dates you lived there?  Do you have the address and telephone number of every place you have ever worked, along with your supervisor’s name?  Not just those jobs you include on your resume’ – every job you’ve ever had. Remember, this is the government; there’s the off-chance that they might cross-check your list against your social security withholding record.  Parents and siblings – can you come up with their birth dates?  How about their place of birth?  Do you still have a copy of your marriage certificate?  Your children’s birth certificates?  What about photo identification?  In addition to your current driver’s license, do you have photo identification from at least five other times in your life?  That ID needs to be from printed documents with verifiable dates.

Yes, Uncle Sam, you’re certainly keeping our country safer by harassing seventy year old widows.

Next post after I help my mom compile the mountain of paperwork the government has requested.

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5 thoughts on “Who Needs Stress?

  1. Holy Let’s-Overdo-It, Socks! Seriously? They wanted ALL of that just so she could have a passport? That’s just incredible. To a great many of those questions, I’d be very hard put to provide answers. I don’t recall the last names of my supervisors from my earliest employment; I certainly don’t have any of their telephone numbers anymore. Some of the companies don’t even exist anymore. And who keeps old drivers licenses (the only photo ID I’ve ever had outside of the military, and the military IDs were shredded when I no longer needed them long ago). Wow. Just WOW. I’m so sorry your Mom is having to go through all this stress. And sorry you are, too. I’m just boggled.

    By the way, your Mom sounds like a VERY nice person. It’s easy to see where her daughter got it from. :)

  2. Oh no! This is awful. My mom, like yours, loves to help others so I can imagine that frustration she must be feeling right now. I hope you both are able to get things straightened out soon and get her on her way.

  3. Oh dear. Not sure where you live, but if it were possible to make an in-person visit to the passport office, that might help. Random flags are just that and in your case, they might waive the requirement. Unfortunately, passport offices are few and far between. Good luck!

  4. OK, can you say totally overboard? Do they not have things where people who have known you for some time can vouch for you or something? Anyway, hope your mum gets her passport…
    :) L

  5. Completely over the top! Talking to the passport office, we think we figured out why her application got flagged (it wasn’t random). It’s not very convenient for us, but I understand and almost agree. It would be nice if the workers could use a little discretion once they know the situation.

    My mom ended up with a huge box of photocopies: everyone’s birth certificates, her marriage certificate, the newspaper clipping from her wedding, baptism certificate, old driver’s license (I don’t think I’ll ever again throw one of those away), high school yearbook pix, professional license… I talked her out of naming every family that she babysat for as a teenager (but completely understand the temptation to flood the government with data when they make such ridiculous information requests). The list of former addresses was two full pages, typed, and locating those is what took the most time. But it’s done!

    Thank you :D

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