Saturday, February 09, 2008

Simple is as Simple does

I like Target. It's not the prices - although they're often pretty good, the $1 rack up front - which is nice for the little ones or the selection, which is usually more than adequate. I like Target because of its fantastic return policy - bring in the receipt, they take the item - done. No paperwork, no 20 questions. I wish everything was that easy.

I'm trying to get a passport. It started out to be simple enough - there's a form on line. Better yet, you can use your computer to fill it out. It was all down hill from there. I went to an "instant" photo place. First, the only machine they have to print them out on was in use. Then they had to retake it three times to get my shoulders in the right place. It was anything but instant, but at least it was done. Next, you need a birth certificate. No problem, I have one of those, but where is it? It was in a metal fire proof box. Suddenly I realize that I'm not sure if it's still in there or where the box is. It finally turned up after five days of searching in a closet. Oh yeah, suddenly I remember putting it there so I wouldn't lose it.

Now, I just need to find the right post office, which is in another town. Anyone familiar with the Greater Boston area will appreciate that it is nearly impossible to find a place if you don't know where it is. Our roads are about as far from a grid as they could possibly get.

But I did finally find it. I trounced in all happy to finally be taking care of this. By my calculations I have just enough time to get the passport by the time I need it without having to pay extra. With a big grin I hand over everything.

"I hope that's not your birth certificate with the little feet on it," said the clerk. "That's just a hospital certificate. We can't accept that."

What? It has an official embossed stamp. It has all the proper details. It has my foot prints for crying out loud! Just take another print and you'll see it's really me. It's the only birth certificate I've ever had. It's always been good enough before. I wanted to throw a fit, but I didn't. I needed my energy for the next round.

I will note that while this was turning into an inordinately complicated process, it was made a kazillion times easier by the web. The information on how to get a genuine birth certificate was all there. Of course I needed a cashier's check, which meant fitting a trip into the bank, which is nearly impossible with my schedule these days. Well, since I'm going, how about finally getting my will signed?

I got the cashier's check and marched over to customer service, relieved that I was finally going to get the will notarized. She looked everything over and then looked over to where the other clerks were.

"I can't do it right now, everyone is too busy," she said non chalantly. "You'll have to come back."

These little things are what beat all the joy out of us. So many forms to fill out. So much documentation. It's not just enough to take care of things, you have to prove that you've taken care of things. It's exhausting and borderline ridiculous. I guess this is just the stuff that life is made of. I just wish more places would take lessons from Target!


Janice said...

Hmm, the only time that Target's return policy slips is encouraging engaged couples to register with them 6 months before the wedding, but only taking returns for the 90 days before..... (And no returns without a receipt or gift receipt.....) Other than that, I totally have to agree with you!! :-) Sorry to hear that the passport experience has been so frustrating. But France awaits, and it will all be worth it!!

Holly Jo said...

Passports are the worst. It took us four trips to finally get them all for our family. What an ordeal!

Best Buy has a similar return policy. Very family friendly in my mind. :)

Allison said...

That's about when I have a melt down and they help me just to make me go away. When we went to get the kids' passports it was a nightmare too. Both parents have to be there (don't want you taking them out of the country without permission) and once I finally found a time that all of us could be there at the same time they said, "our person is out to lunch right now - come back late!" I said, "I called and you said any time between 10-2 NOT any time between 10-2 when our person isn't at lunch . . ." well you can imagine.