Disclaimer - please excuse the rant ...
OK, so the title is a bit strong. Not all government employees fail, in fact - maybe even the majority of them are fine, hard-working folks.
But why is it that some seem to go out of their way to give the rest of them such a bad wrap? Of course, at the state-level we have the ubiquitously terrible DMV waiting lines ... but I recently had the pleasure of attempting to get a passport.
Now, I admit it - I am trying to do this kinda' last minute ... as in I travel in 7 days. My bad; but bear with me here ... (and until today, I thought you didn't need a passport to go to Canada - then I read some things today that seemed to indicate I would need one ... and now I see I just need proof that I have applied for a Passport).
((First - don't get me started on the government making an increased requirement for passports (which I am all for!) but not staffing up on the relevant positions ... I am sure that is a large part of my complaint, and they certainly deserve a brow-beating for that!! What, if anything, were they thinking??? ))
So - I try to go to the Post Office to submit my application (Yes, I had it all completed & printed, and pictures, etc. - all set). The travel.state.gov site says they are open until 4PM, so I leave work very early (just after 2PM) and arrive there at 3:15PM ... they are "open", but not accepting further applications today. So, not only is the website misleading - but their answer to an increased work load is to simply stop accepting clients. I wish I could get away with that once in awhile! (Actually - no I don't, but that wouldn't sound as funny). Not like there won't be a line tomorrow to do this, so really - they are just piling up more and more later and later.
So having failed at that attempt, I try calling the "I waited until the last minute and need a passport fast", "automated scheduling hotline". Now it is bad enough that the "automated" hotline failed to connect my first 23 attempts, but when I did finally get through I get to listen to several minutes of overly pedantic instructions (no wonder the line is so busy!) ... and, if you are lucky, you get to choose AM or PM. I chose PM, and it tells me the next appointment is 14 days away.
* This is bad for several reasons - as I mentioned, I travel in 7.
* The hotline also does not allow you to say "Hm, ok - let's try AM instead" - nope, you get to try a bunch more times (only 9 for me this go-round!).
* Also, it is worth noting that the hotline is only usable by those who need to travel within 14 days ... Apparently, they think you can wait until the day of your flight for your passport (Hope you have a late/evening flight!).
In closing, I am lucky I am "only" going to Canada and I can get by without a passport just yet (pre-09.30.07, after which they will be required (again)) ... I do still potentially need one for future business trips, but those haven't been finalized yet. I hope they aren't for atleast several weeks!
PS - their web site admins fail also, as the "check my passport application status" page has an expired cert ... whoops!