Friday, May 12, 2006

Jeff Gets In Trouble With the Feds

Anyone who knows Jeff personally will not find this story suprising or outrageous in the least, but more like par for the course.

The first thing you must understand about Jeff is that he doesn't suffer fools or idiots easily, and beaurocrats top the list of fools and idiots as far as he's concerned. It has come to his attention that a great many of our legal processes in this country are ridiculous and inane, and the people implementing them have no idea what they're talking about, and couldn't find their ass with both hands.

Which brings us to today's story:

Tenley needs a passport. I am unwilling to surrender the one and only copy of her Certificate of Citizenship, which would take upwards of $300 and one year to replace if lost...and I don't trust the Feds not to lose it. So that meant we would have to apply for it in person at the Federal Bldg. in LA....and a minor must have both parents present.

Pre-9/11 you could just show up there and stand in line, but post-9/11 you must have an appointment, and you must be traveling within 21 days. So the nice automated system finally gave us an appointment for today at 7:30 am. Ugh. That's a 65 mile drive on a Friday moring during rush hour. We had to leave at 5:30, neither of us got more than 4 hours sleep therefore everyone was tired and cranky. Everyone was really cranky after the 2 1/2 hour drive.

We cleared security (after we had to take our cell phones back to the car because they have cameras), headed down the hall, and the nice armed guard verified our appointment and admitted us to the passport room.

We were motioned forward to window #2 by Souless Government Worker Drone #67, a black lady with nappy hair, fabulous antique jewlery and a 'tude. We cheerfully handed her Tenley's passport application, photos and her certificate of citizenship. "I'm going to need her adoption certificate" she tells us. I hand her the piece of paper in the commerative vinyl folder with the pictute of the three of us, official Chinese red stamps and embossing, that with the exception of our names and addresses is written entirely in Chinese. She looks at it and says "Where's the adoption certificate?" "That's it" I tell her. "We don't get an adoption certificate from the US" Jeff supplies. "This is not acceptable. You're going to have to get this translated." she replies. "WHAT?! This is IT! What do you mean 'it's not acceptable?!"Jeff irritatedly huffs at her. "Wait", I say "I think there IS a translation" as I pull all my paperwork out of our folder, while indignant Jeff and the SGWD begin debating why her Certificate of citizenship isn't enough; and after shuffleing through them I indeed find the translation stapled to a copy of the certificate.

The remouval of the papers is when things start to go downhill fast. The SGWD notices a photocopy of the Citizenship Cert. among my many papers. She holds up the original and points at my copy and tells me to read what is printed in the lower left corner. "It is punishable by U.S. law to copy, print or photograph this certificate, without lawful authority" I read. The SGWD tsk-tsks us and tells us that we need to destroy that. "So? I don't care." Jeff tells her flippantly. "You should care. You need to care." the Drone forcefully replies. "Why? This govenment is so f***ing stupid anyway. I'll do what I want." Jeff shoots back. Uh-oh. Their 'tudes are inflating and one of them is gonna blow. I tell Jeff to calm down and quickly change the subject back to the adoption certificate.

The SGWD doesn't realize that this is a translation of the other certificate. She shakes her head and says "No, no I need a document for this" as she points to the last line of the translation which reads "The adoptive relationship is established on the legal registration date". "I need something with this date on it."she says with finality. That does it- Jeff loses it: "That's it!!!! Don't you get it?? That's all there is!!! Stupid government- run by a bunch of f***ing morons!! This is ridiculous!!" I groan as I see the SGWD pick up the phone and call security to tell them she has an irate customer who is cursing at her. At this point security shows up and throws my husband and daughter out of the building.

I stand there stunned for a moment. I apologize to the Drone for the foul language and try to explain that he's just very tired and doesn't deal well with beaurocracy. The Drone doesn't care- she tell me she's sorry for me having to put up with him. I tell her he's really not bad, he just doesn't have alot of patience with things like this. Then I change the subject before she insults my (usually) wonderful husband again and I have to start yelling.

You see, the thing about government employees is that they didn't get to these comfy pay rates and exorbitant pensions by thinking outside the box. They know they have a 2"x2" square hole to put the peg in, and it doesn't occur to them that a 1" diameter round peg would fit too. They just know what they know, so when you get a situation like us it throws them.

Finally, I get her to look at the copy of the Chinese adoption cert. that's stapled to the translation and the lightbulb over her head flickers for a moment. "Alright" she says dubiously as she begins stapling all the papers together, "you can try, but I don't know if they're gonna take this." Then she tells me when I come back, to come right up to her window and she'll give me a number.

The security guard at the door tells me that Jeff & Ten are outside so he can "cool off" and they'll let him back in in 30 minutes. Sure enough, I find Tenley running all over the lawns collecting leaves from the magnolia trees and pulling up toadstools. Jeff is fine. We play on the lawns, point at fire trucks and busses as they race past, and Ten gets a diaper change before we finally head in with a promise from Jeff not to say a word.

The Souless Worker Drone gives us a number and we wait 20 or so minutes with Tenley munching on chocolate Teddy Grahams and flirting with the college students next to us. Eventually our number comes up and we hand the paperwork to a cheerful little Amer-asian SGWD at window 11. She looks at everything, and calls her supervisor over. SGWSup, turns out to be totally competant. He explains to her the difference in paperwork for international vs. domestic adoptions, and thanks us for doing the extra leg work and bringing her CC. All is well. the AA-SGWD quickly processes our papers, takes our check and sends us on our way. I get Jeff out of the building as fast as possible before something else pisses him off.

The ironic part? They took the Citizenship Certificate.


Shelley said...

OMG, that is hysterical. I feel for you Jeff. I would have been the one to go off too.

Glad you're not in the pokey.


marilyn & evro said...

I'm glad I read this before our appointment later this week! Yikes! I hope we don't get the same worker. One question--did they ask you to show proof of travel in less than two weeks???
Group 106

Donna said...

I was nervous about handing over our original documents too. But I didn't imagine there was any other option so I did it. Then I read this post two days ago and got really nervous! But, alas, Gwen's passport and her original documents arrive in our mailbox yesterday. Phew! That's a relief!

About Miss SGWD (that cracks me up!!): Her "comfy pay rate" probably isn't more than $10 or $11 per hour. She's probably a GS3 or below. Here's the pay table: (the higher GS levels are highly skilled positions.

I have a photocopy of Gwen's citizenship cert and I've made numerous copies of Andrew's (He's a Brit) for both adoptions. So I guess we just can't photocopy it for UNLAWFUL purposes.

Where are you traveling? Somewhere fun? 2nd adoption, maybe?