Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

How to get your passport without doing prison time

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I am feeling pretty proud of myself because I just got my new passport.

Technically, I do not actually have the passport yet, but I have navigated the complex bureaucratic maze, which ends with you giving the federal government money and them promising to send you a passport in time for you to go on that big trip with your wife she arranged more than a year ago without any help from you because all you had to do was get your (bad word) passport, if that isn't asking too (very bad word) much.

Based on personal experience, I would say the process of filling out the forms required to get a passport is a lot like getting an advanced degree in quantum physics because, from what I can tell, the "simple" paperwork was prepared by rocket scientists for rocket scientists, so there is absolutely no way someone with a normal-size brain such as you or I could hope to fill it out without making a simple mistake that would land us in federal prison.

That being the case, here is my step-by-step guide to getting a passport without any actual work on your part:

Step 1 -- Get married and wait for your spouse to arrange "the trip of a lifetime" to someplace you personally have never heard of but will not let someone like you cross their borders without documented proof you are not an axe murderer.

Step 2 -- When your spouse tells you she has done all the work and the only thing you are expected to do is get your passport, smile and reassure her "it is on the top of your to-do list, just as soon as the game is over."

Step 3 -- Spend the next 11 months on the couch watching sports highlights and, in case of a lockout, the weather channel.

Step 4 -- When your spouse demands to know if you have filled out the passport forms, tell her you are "definitely on top of it" but you did not expect this documentary in which supermodel Christie Brinkley reveals the secret to ageless skin to be such compelling viewing.

Step 5 -- Leave the forms and some pens and pencils in a spot where your spouse will find them during her daily routine, such as on the floor next to your dirty underwear and socks or beside the empty toilet-paper dispenser.

Step 6 -- Once your spouse has "taken the hint" and filled out the forms for you, take a moment to examine her work just in case she has made any glaring errors on your behalf.

Step 7 -- After glancing at your personal information on the forms, make sad puppy-dog eyes and give your spouse some helpful feedback: "Brown hair! I don't have brown hair! You don't know me at all!"

Step 8 -- Go to the passport office and get in a line that is so long it can be seen from outer space and is moving more slowly than a small jungle creature passing through the digestive system of a mature python. Make sure to bring a snack.

Step 9 -- Do not do anything even remotely suspicious, such as perspiring. Answer all the passport agent's questions in a prompt and courteous manner. For example:

Passport agent: "Do you... "

You: "YES!"

Passport agent: "I haven't asked the question yet."


Step 10 -- After handing over your birth certificate and driver's licence and paying the processing fee, back away from the passport agent slowly, remembering never to smile, because that is a sure sign you are an international terrorist.

Step 11 -- Now go straight home and thank your spouse for all her help. Promise you will visit her in prison every day.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 5, 2012 A2


Updated on Monday, November 5, 2012 at 10:50 AM CST: Added art.

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