Andrea Mara

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Out of the office (by the skin of my teeth)

“That’s where I got my passport photos mum, isn’t it?” said Emmie who is five, as we walked past our local Fuji photo shop last Friday.

“Yep, that’s right – we’ll have to make sure we all bring our passports when we go on holidays next week, won’t we!” I replied.

“Do you have a passport mum?” she asked.

“Me? Of course I have a …. woah. Hold on. Do I have a passport …” Suddenly, memories of getting a new passport a few months before I got married started to flood back. And I got married almost ten years ago. So, with maths that even a five-year-old could manage, it was clear that there was a problem.

One frantic check and four hundred phone-calls later, I had established the following:

  • My passport had expired in March.
  • You need a valid passport to take a ferry to France.
  • The passport office couldn’t give me an appointment until Wednesday, and then it would take five days to get the passport – except I was due to travel on Friday.
  • The emergency facility allowed for appointments one day before travel only, and with no guarantees – this later proved to be incorrect, but at that point, panic set in.

Three hours later, I was back down in the same Fuji shop getting passport photos taken (and they are truly hideous – I look like I’ve just been arrested – but beggars can’t be choosers), organising forms and getting Garda signatures (the witnessing process still baffles me but if a Garda is happy to sign that he knows me, I’m not arguing).

My family was a little less sympathetic to my plight than I expected. Emmie, the catalyst for discovering the problem, was quite accepting of my fate:

“Mum, if we have to go without you, I know we’ll come home to find you soaking wet from crying – actually, I’d say the house will be flooded after two weeks of your tears, won’t it mum?”

Em, thanks.

And my husband sent me an email later that afternoon, purporting to be a potential Gumtree ad:

Wanted Urgently–

Short term position for new Mammy.

Must have CURRENT passport as position will involve travel.  Willingness to drive in France a plus . Candidates with an ability to go into 5th gear will be looked upon favourably by the hiring manager.

Must be experienced in getting 3 children to bed while Dad watches World Cup in campsite bar.

Bonus points for :

Reading a map

Packing light

I wasn’t ready to laugh just yet.

But then I too became somewhat ambivalent about it. As I listened to the kids complaining during a twenty-minute journey at the weekend, moaning that it was taking too long, plan B started to sound more and more appealing: if the passport didn’t arrive by Friday, I’d follow on by air, and meet them at the campsite. A two-hour flight on my own instead of a 28 hour journey by car? Maybe it was time to start hoping for another passport-office strike.

(to my husband: I’m kidding, I can’t wait to travel for 28 hours in a car with our kids, no really)

But there was no strike, and happily, at 3pm this afternoon, one sleep before our holiday, I got my new passport. And I don’t need any more punishment; living with the hideous photos for the next ten years will be penance enough.

office mum photo: passport

See you in two weeks!





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