Maybe my experience is unusual, but I’ve never encountered a public sector employee that has been in any way rude or unhelpful. As a one, they have all been happy to serve, and they’ve made me happy to be served.
On the other hand, I have encountered public sector procedures that I’ve found uncomfortable, and it’s interesting how different the experiences are from ministry to ministry. On one end of the spectrum, there’s Human Resources Development Canada, whose employees have always helped me and where I’ve made use of excellent services that have, seriously, changed my life, but whose lineups are always long and always irksome. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Passport Canada, where I’ve never had to wait more than ten minutes to get service, and who actually provide chairs for you to sit on while you wait.
As you can guess, I went down to my Passport Canada office today to get passports for Vivian and Erin, and the personnel there were uniformly helpful, correcting mistakes I’d made on the form and dealing with me in such a cheery manner that the whole time came as a relief. Which was good because I needed it after the stress of filling out all of those passport forms. I swear, all the trouble you go through to ensure you have the correct documentation, scoring passport photographs, finding people who will admit to knowing you for over two years, the whole shebang, lends the whole process the same air of importance as doing one’s taxes, and the same sense of impending consequences if you make a mistake. They have accountants that can do your taxes. They don’t have passport accountants.
So, Erin and Vivian should have brand spanking new Canadian passports in two weeks, just in time for us to travel to the States to be with the family on the first anniversary of Wendy’s death. It should make the border crossing go easier, I think. Although, here’s a quandary: when we head into the United States, and the official asks for our citizenship, does Erin say American?
I mean, she is American, and she has the birth certificate to prove her citizenship, and a copy of our wedding license to explain why I’m in tow, and for now that’s enough for anybody, American or Canadian, to cross the border. But of course the United States is ramping up security. We can’t go through an airport without a passport these days, and in about a year we can’t cross by road without one either.
And Erin’s American passport has expired.
Is there any benefit in her getting a new one? Can she return to her home country with an expired passport? Or is she going to have to declare herself a Canadian when we head south, as weird as that may seem?