Don’t Be Fooled: The Government Owns You

Last December I had applied for a passport for my son. I went to the county courthouse in Cambria County as I was visiting my parents in Johnstown and submitted the application. I wanted to submit an expedited application as we were leaving to go on a trip in 6 weeks and I’m familiar with how slow and inefficient our government is, having been living under its rule for the vast majority of my life, however the people at the courthouse insisted that I would receive the application in no more than 3 weeks if I submitted it via normal means. I can only imagine it’s an extra 5 minutes of work or something for them to submit the expedited request. So anyway, I submitted the application.

Three and a half weeks later I gave the US Department of State / Passport Agency a call to find out what the status was. “Sorry, we have no record of your son’s passport application. You’ll need to resubmit it.” So I called the courthouse and they said that they’d mailed them out, that they’d look into it and get back to me.

A week later no one has called me back, so I gave the courthouse another ring. “Someone will get back to you in 15 minutes.” No one calls back for two days. This sort of thing went on for a week and a half, until finally they admit that my son’s application and eight other people who’s applications had been submitted that day (an astounding number of passport applications for such a rural area of PA and two days after Christmas, I thought) had all been lost.

Fine. Okay, fine. So I begin ordering a new birth certificate, a new death certificate (his mother is deceased and despite what the application says they’ll accept, only a death certificate will do), having his pictures retaken, attempting to get my money back for the money order that I’d sent them originally, and do all of this in time to resubmit the application – which isn’t going to happen. They tell me that I’ll need to come into the Philadelphia office (mind you, we live in Pittsburgh, but they don’t have an office here). So I try to set up an appointment. “Sorry, but you can only schedule an appointment in the office if you’re leaving within 15 days.” When I asked if I was guaranteed an appointment they said no, but “it hasn’t been too, too busy lately, so you’ll probably get in.”

Two days before I’m able to make the appointment, they call me back with some good news! They’ve found the original application (the post office had lost it and somehow found it five weeks later.) Everything’s good to go, except that I’ve already canceled the original money order, but I assured them that I would send a new check overnight with expedited shipping. So that costs like $11 or something stupid. So by this point I’ve paid $35 for the new birth and death certificates, $52 for the passport application, $11 for the overnight shipping and $30 for having his passport photo taken (twice). So, $128 for a $52 passport application.

Everything goes through, he gets his passport, and we make our trip.

A few weeks later I get a letter stating that my original money order has bounced. Yep, instead of cashing the second check I sent – fully explaining to them the situation at the time – they tried cashing the money order which had been canceled already. So they were trying to assess me a $25 fee for that on top of it.

But luckily I screamed and kicked and asked to talk to managers enough that they waived it, except I’ll need to get another money order so that’ll cost another $5. I first refused to pay them, at which point they informed me it would simply be taken out of my taxes. The government owns you.

Anyway, I hate the government and it hates me.

Up Next: The Up and Coming is a Starry Dispatch from This Current