Washin’ and Hopin’

Say? What’s that lump in those jeans I just washed… oh, laddy boy’s passport. Many people don’t carry their passports around in their jean’s pocket and many other people check they’ve removed important identity documents from their pockets before placing their pockets into the washing machine.

I blame McDonald’s, who insisted Eamon bring his passport to his recent interview as proof of citizenship and right to work. Perhaps I shouldn’t blame McDonald’s, after all they’re just trying to comply with legislation and legislation is the work of the Devil and the Devil has been long known to inhabit Parliament House, so I guess, like a good Australian, I can quite rightly blame the government for this horrible laundry catastrophe.

We tried hanging the passport on the line and we tried convincing ourselves that it didn’t look that bad despite the fact that the pages were somehow expanded to be larger than the cover. Still, Pip called the Emergency Line – the one you call when you’re suddenly caught in a popular uprising in a small middle-eastern kingdom, or when faced with recently laundered passport 52 hours before heading to Paris (emergencies are relevant to personal experience). The Emergency Line seemed very good at being helpful and calm – we needed to phone the Brisbane office in the morning and make an appointment and take a complete new application with all the documentation and photos and money – take lots of money.

Now Eamon, who had wisely opted for a sleepover at a mate’s place and thus escaped the pre-calming-down wrath had to be arranged to be collected in the morning and taken to a place where passport photos could be done, while I needed to complete the application and assemble the documentation – birth certificates of anyone who’d ever been to our home; a set of paw prints from our dog… the usual stuff. I hoped our friendly local pharmacist would agree to agree he’d known Eamon for at least 12 months and would sign the back of the photos.

After extensive and tricky navigation through the Passport Office’s helpful phone enquiries system, I managed to arrange an appointment for 9:50. So I fired up the Vespa and headed to collect number young son and have him photographed; had the pharmacist verify him; abandoned him at the Post Office and wheeled off to New Farm for Pip’s signature and that of a witness. I made it to the City after a lovely stop at every red light between New Farm and ANZAC Square and thought for a moment that I should calm myself and consider the stress that was causing a pain behind my left eye – nah, that’s lack of coffee I rationalised. No street parks, so a few U-eys and I darted into the world’s most expensive, ‘we don’t have a scooter-rate’ carpark (Side note: $40 for 1h20!!!). I made the Passport Office right on time and, to my complete surprise, they were on time as well. 

I held out the sodden but very clean passport and tried to convince them it’d be alright – but really I wanted them to say “ewww… we’ll get you a new one straight away”. I had thoughts of stern-faced Chinese Red Army officials being called over to inspect my son’s passport and was very conscious that I did not know the Chinese for “it smells nice though!” Helpfully, the Passport people gave us the choice – keep it and risk having Julia Gillard call my 14 yo son in a Beijing Prison or give it over to be cancelled and risk them not being able to produce another one instantly. They would really try their best, they said but no guarantees.

The thought of spending quality time in Paris and Barcelona with Pip and no son dragging along flashed through my mind and after a quick call to Pip (to make sure I was making the right decision…) I said, “Yeah – Why not. We’ll give it a go.” Most cavalier I thought – just the thing an urban gent such as myself might say in a similar circumstance. Worst case – alone adult time in Europe (which was really starting to sound appealing.)

3:30pm they said. That was when we’d know if they made it.




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