I arrived very early at the Passport Canada office on Sparks Street in downtown Ottawa expecting to have to wait in line for about 2 hours before getting our passports processed. However, I arrived to find only a handful of travellers ahead of me. This was a good sign.
Within minutes a friendly agent was looking through my documentation to make sure that I had everything in order, before handing me a number and telling me to have a seat and wait for my number to be called.
As I was waiting patiently, there was a Passport Canada official straight ahead of me who was clearly doing nothing, and the numbers on the large display board were not changing. He stared at the clock on the wall and examined his finger nails for a good 5 minutes before he switched the number on the big display board to the number that I was holding in my hand. Great – out of all of the agents here in the office, I get the guy who clearly hates his job!
I proceed to his counter and present my documentation to him. I explain that I am here to renew passports for my husband, my daughter, my son, and myself, and I need a new passport for our youngest son. I state that we are going on an exchange to Australia in January 2012 and in order to apply for sponsorship, we have to have current passports, and once we have been sponsored then we can apply for a visa to enter the country. He nonchalantly looks through the applications and the passports and states, “but these passports aren’t expired right now”. So I explain again that we need them to be current and that we need them in order to be sponsored. He asks if I have documentation that states this. None of the documentation that I’ve brought with me actually confirms what I’ve just told him, so I say “no”. He rudely throws a blank piece of white paper at me and says “well write it down in detail and I’m not guaranteeing this will work!”
I spend the next 2 minutes quickly writing an explanation as to why we need these passports processed immediately and hand it back to him. He looks back up from having stared at his fingernails for the second time today, and starts to process the applications. He makes copies of the handwritten note and attaches it to each of the applications and when he gets to our sons renewal application he states “this passport doesn’t expire until the day after your intended return date, so we don’t have to do this one.” This is where I lose it! I state firmly, but politely, as this guy is holding our passport fate in our hands, that I am not willing to take the risk that should we be delayed in leaving Australia for some unforeseen reason, I am not able to bring my son back with me because I was not able to get a newer passport issued! I state “I am here and I am willing to pay for a new passport for my son, and I have all of the documentation in order. I want a new passport for him.”
He was speechless, or just dumbfounded, or just didn’t care, and continued the process. Within minutes he had the paperwork for me to sign off on and didn’t bother wishing me a good day or a good trip. We parted ways and he went back to staring at his fingernails, I’m sure contemplating how he could make his next victim squirm. Welcome to Canada – ya’ right!