Your government at work

Personal stuff ahead, and it’s a long twisting story with no real ending to boot. So that’s two reasons you probably won’t want to read this update.

Still here? Okay: Donna (my wife, for those scoring at home) and I are going on a cruise. We don’t have passports, but we’ve gone in the past with just our birth certificates (which I understand you won’t be able to do after this year, but at the moment that’s still kosher). We came home and realized we had lost our birth certificates. Well, crap. But hey, we still had six weeks. We found an official document which sure looked like her cert, and I sent off for another copy of mine from the state, so all was well.

Donna decided she wanted to get a passport. Great. She filled out the paperwork, sent off her birth-certificate-like document, paid extra to expedite things, and we were assured that she’d get everything back in plenty of time. A few days rolled by, she tried on her swimsuits, we got all excited, etc. Then we got a call from the state department: Donna’s birth document was NOT a reel-O-fficial birth certificate. Well, double crap. Okay, so we’ll order her a copy and get that all sorted out. No problem, right?

Except for one tiny thing: Donna was born on an Air Force base in Puerto Rico. We started fishing around and discovered that a request for official documents from P.R. could take up to six weeks. At this point, we had about four until the cruise.


Donna immediately sent an official request to P.R. next-day air which they didn’t actually sign for until four days later. We asked my brother-in-law the missionary to call the Department of Records for us and speak some of that there Spanish to them, but they didn’t seem too interested to help out. She’s been looking into those companies which tout two-to-four-day certificate delivery service, but they all say the same thing: Ultra-Super-Fast Service Guaranteed except Puerto Rico, which can take up to 30 business days. The cruise line says she MUST have a birth certificate or a passport to get on the ship. The State Department says she MUST have a birth certificate to get a passport. The fact that she has documents which she could not have received without a birth certificate (driver’s license, marriage license, teaching certificate, etc.) doesn’t enter into it. Puerto Rico says “Get back to us after the World Cup’s over, okay?”

So now we’re taking it to the next level. I wrote letters to my U.S. representative and to the rep from Puerto Rico. Donna called our U.S. senator’s office today. She also got the number of the P.R. consulate in Orlando, Florida. Everyone she’s talked to today seems very willing to help. After a week of very bleak news, we think we’re finally getting somewhere.

We may have just paid cruise money for an $89 plane flight to Miami. If I post a big “WOO HOO” then we got her cert. Otherwise, prepare to read the darkest, angriest blog post in the history of mankind. The suspense is killing me. Literally.

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