This is going to be long and ranty, so buckle up, children.
I had a lovely stay with the Bree half of Moira Rogers, and I did get to meet the Donna half more than once. She’s fabulous, as is her counterpart. Both their husbands are charming. I enjoyed myself immensely; that part of my trip to Alabama was fantastic. But I needed some alone time to really dig into this book. If interesting people are around, I want to chat, not work, so I removed myself to a hotel for the last few days I’m in town. At this point, you’re thinking it’s all roses, right?
Well, I was writing away today when I got an email from my husband. He tells me there’s a problem with the Peru trip; they require passports to be six months from expiration before they can book the trip. Do I want to miss a company-paid trip to Peru? HELL NO. Plus, I should / need to go to add detail to Shady Lady when I get copyedits back. This is not just a fun trip, though it will surely be that. Assuming I survive the hoop-jumping. So my passport only has four months left on it; it expires in December.
So I immediately use my Google-fu to find an agency that can expedite the order and get me a new passport next week. I find one that is recommended by Forbes magazine. (We leave on August 26th.) Don’t do this if you have any other choice, by the way. It costs an insane amount, on top of the governmental fees. But I am between the proverbial rock and a hard place today, so I start getting things together.
I should’ve known it was not gonna be like a hot knife through butter when it took me half an hour to print all the required forms and documents in the Holiday Inn business center. That was due to computer mess. Note to Holiday Inn, you should NOT buy E-Machines, seriously. These are the jankiest machines on the market.
So I finally get this stuff ready to go. It’s 4:30pm now, but I still need to get a passport photo taken. The agent at the front desk tells me that she thinks Wal-Mart does them, and there’s one right up the road. So I call the Wal-Mart to confirm. The woman on the phone assures me, “Yes, we do passport photos.” I ask, “Is there a certain cut-off time? Like before five or six?” Because I’m not sure how long it will take me to get there. She replies, “No, they do them until 9pm.”
I’m pleased. The cabbie is quick and prompt (later Randy will save my bacon). The Wal-Mart is, indeed, right up the road, so he drops me off, and I promise to call when I’m done. Thus, begins my descent into hell. It started slow. I went into the money center and got a money order. The line was long, but I did get the money order. (I have a checking account, but I literally have no printed checks. I use my debit card for everything or I just use Bank of America’s BillPayer to cut a check for me. So an agency that requires this form of payment, well, it has to be a money order.) I got the $200 MO, government fees for the passport, rush, and the passport card.
This taken care of, I go back to the photo center. Dear Mercy. Nobody was there. I waited 5-10 minutes before she came back and I asked to have a passport photo done. The clerk replied, “I don’t know how to do that.”
Utterly nonplussed, because I CALLED to confirm beforehand, I ask, “Well, can you call someone who does know?”
I wait another 10-15 minutes. The supervisor comes to the back, where I am waiting, once more alone. She says, “What’s wrong wit’ you?” (Awesome customer service by the way. I think she thought it was a complaint.)
I said, “I just need a passport photo taken and I was assured on the phone you could do it at this location until 9pm. Surely someone in the store has been trained. A manager?”
She then gets on the phone to call a manager. I wait another 10 minutes. The manager comes. “Nobody knows how to do this, ma’am, but the girl who is supposed to be working called in to say she’s running late and will be in at 6.”
It’s now 5:30 btw. So I’ve already been waiting close to 45 minutes. I say okay, what’s half an hour more at this point, and I go buy the blue pen I need to sign all the forms and eat supper at Subway. I read some of THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO on my Kindle. At 6:10, I reckon Ebony ought to be at work by now, so I go back to the photo center. Sadly, there is nobody there. Again. I wait until 6:45. She never comes. The manager never checks back on me. Nobody apologizes for my time or inconvenience. Shame on you, Wal-Mart! This is the one at 1600 Montclair Rd, Irondale, AL, btw. Feel free to boycott them. If they couldn’t serve me as promised, they should’ve done something to make up for the trouble I went to.
At this point, I give up. I look for other alternatives, because I must get these photos done today. I speak to a woman at Kinkos and she promises they can help me. I am not feeling hopeful. I call Randy, who comes to get me. We go to Kinkos but it’s almost 14 miles away. In a cab. So, yeah. You can imagine what that cost, there and back.
I do get the photos made. But I lost two hours of my work day, plus all that cabfare, because Wal-Mart is the devil. There are no words for how much I hate them right now.