It started with a phone call. I was standing in line at Target when I got a call from my wife. She was nearly in tears and said to me “My passport is expired”. This was at 1:55 PM. The major problem: we were supposed to be on a flight to the UK at 5:40 PM. I told her we’d figure it out and I hung up and began quickly going through ideas in my head.
In the parking lot I started to search for what we could do. My father-in-law was also searching at our house since my in-laws were there to watch the kids while we’d be gone. We both came to the same thing: we needed to get to the Dallas Passport office pronto since it was closing at 3 PM. The site also mentioned something about needing an appointment. Also, the message told us everything we need. We’ll come to that later.
I rushed home and flew through my remaining packing, hugged the kids, and we rushed out the door. Along the way, I started calling the passport office to make an appointment for a rush passport. The earliest I could get was 8 AM the next day. Undeterred, we kept going down to to the office. We got there around 2:25 PM and ran into the building that houses the passport office.
As we entered the office, the guards told us that we needed to turn off any electronic devices and then sent us to the window about appointments. The lady here gave us a rough look when we told her that we didn’t have an appointment. She also asked if we had all the documents, including 2 passport photos. Of course, we didn’t have any passport photos. We asked the lady if there was somewhere nearby we could get passport photos and she oddly replied “I can’t tell you, you’ll have to ask the guards”. I took it that for some reason of policy, she wasn’t allowed to do so. Her parting words to us were that we’d need to hurry, they were closing in 5 minutes. Which I will note is 30 minutes before 3 PM.
We asked the guards and they told us the sundry shop in the building took passport photos. We ran to the shop and the girl working there was happy to help and told us it would take about 5 minutes. While Maggie was taking care of getting her photos made, I ran back out to the car to get “proof of travel” in the next 2 weeks which was something else we would need.
After obtaining the photos and going back upstairs, we noticed that Maggie’s printed ticket confirmation only printed out the first page. That meant that the flight details didn’t make it on the printout. Without being about to use our phones once inside the passport office, we had no way of showing proof of travel. The only other thing we had was a printout of our hotel reservation showing its address in London.
The lady at the appointments desk had Maggie fill out an application for renewal and looked over our documents. Hesitantly, she accepted the fact that we had a hotel reservation of immediate travel and told us to wait to be called to a window. At this point, there was only one window open and the lady there almost immediately called our number. She took Maggie’s application and let us know how much it’d be to get a rushed passport (it’s $170 for a renewal). She also questioned our “proof of travel” until we told her that the first lady had accepted it. She also made some comment about “when did you think you were going to make this flight and when did you look at your passport”? It was making Maggie feel unnecessarily extra dumb for having not checked before. I was thinking it wasn’t necessary to chastise us and make us feel worse. We were obviously stressed and were just trying to get things settled as quickly as possible to make our flight.
Finally, she entered everything in the computer and told us to sit and wait for the passport to be printed. After what felt like an eternity, the passport was presented and we rushed to the airport where we arrived well before out flight and found ourselves sitting at the gate at 5:00 PM amazed that we were sitting there at all.
So that’s how we got Maggie’s passport renewed in 45 minutes. Tada!
A quick aside: at 2:45 PM, each of these civil servants grumbled mightily about us being there at closing time. While I’m very grateful for our outcome, I could have done without the complaints about having the audacity of making them work through to closing time.
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