I am about to the point I need a Valium! I hate, let me repeat that, HATE automated phone systems anyway but this one for the passport office is infuriating.
I called the customer service center to see about changing my name on my passport. I never thought it would be such a huge deal to get this taken care of. I had just renewed my passport last May. All I need to do is change my name due to marriage. There is a passport center in Hot Springs, Arkansas that will do expedited passports in person. It’s a 6-7 hour drive from where I live in Kansas so it’s totally worth the drive for me. But getting the appointment to go there has proven to be a test of patience that I am failing miserably.
I called in and got a real live person. I told him I wanted to make an appointment to get my name changed on my passport. He proceeded to tell me how to do the mail in application and that it would take 4-6 weeks, etc. I repeated that I wanted to make an appointment for the Arkansas office because I know they do the expedited passports there. He then asked me when my date of travel was. I explained that the Arkansas office does not require proof of travel to go to their office. Something you would think I would not have to explain to someone who works there.
He then went on to tell me that he could not set an appointment for me if I did not have a specific date of travel. I would have to use the automated service. I had no idea what I was in for.
Next he made sure I had all the information I needed before transferring me to the automated system. I thanked him, because he was nice and tried to be very helpful and I appreciated that. Then he transferred me to the automated appointment line, or the 7th circle of hell as I now call it. Actually, it reminds me of a scene in Labyrinth where the girl falls into an oubliette. A type of dungeon where the only way in or out is in the ceiling. You get dropped into it and forgotten about.
I traversed the automated prompts until it told me the first available appointment at the Arkansas office. It was for 9 am on the 19th of February. I was hoping for an appointment on the 17th and there is no way I could go the 19th as I’m scheduled to work. If there was nothing earlier in the week I would have to wait until the 24th, my next day off. After giving you every piece of information you could possibly want about the Arkansas office it finally asks if you want this appointment or would like to hear the next available appointment. I clicked that I wanted to hear the next appointment.
I had mistakenly assumed that they would be fairly busy and the next appointment at this late date would be on the 20th or at least later in the day on the 19th. No, the next available appointment was 30 minutes later. And so it went, 30 minutes at a time. Now this wouldn’t have been so frustrating if this wasn’t what you had to listen to every single time you asked for an appointment time:
The next available appointment at the Arkansas Passport Center, 191 Office Park Drive, Hot Springs, AK 71913 (proof of travel is not required to apply at this agency, passports will be issued within 5 business days of applying at the agency, if you are traveling sooner than 5 business days, it is strongly recommended that you bring proof of travel, the agency will advise you when the passport will be made available based on your documented travel plans) is on February 24th 2014 at 9:00 AM. To accept this appointment, press 1. To hear the next appointment, press 2. To repeat the appointment information, press 9. To return to the automated appointment systems main menu, press *. For assistance from a customer service representative press 0.
Why? WHY? WHY? Would anyone think this was a good idea to put this on the automated service to play EVERY SINGLE TIME you go to the next appointment time? By the time I had listened to this message 6 times I was ready to see about buying a plane ticket so I could have a person actually book the appointment for me but since I have no idea when (or even if) my visa will come through, I knew I was going to have to suck it up and trudge through this God-awful torturous automated system if I was going to get what I wanted.
It is at this point when my cordless phone died.
Oh what fresh hell is this?
Now I have to call in again and start over.
I switch out my phone hand set with one that has been in the charger a while and I call back. I get back to the point where I’m going through the times on the day I want and am about to get to the day and time I want when the second phone dies.
It’s obvious the Gods are against me in this endeavor.
Now I have to let both phones sit and charge for a while before calling back. I do not want to have a phone die on me yet again. Though if it does happen again, and I fly into a murderous rage, I’m sure I would be able to get off. All I would have to do is get the judge to call the “help” line just once and listen to this soul-sucking message and he or she would totally understand!
After letting the phones charge for a few hours I decided to brave the living embodiment of Dante’s Inferno yet again. I make it through to the 7th level of hell once more and finally, and with what I can only assume was with the Grace of God, I got my appointment!!!
Now I will just have to get the oil changed in my car between now and the 24th of February and plot a course to Hot Springs, Arkansas. The 6 hour drive seems like a mild annoyance compared to what I have already had to deal with.
The saving grace in all of this is that each insane obstacle I have to endure brings me closer to being reunited with my husband. At least I know the ends will make the means all worth it!