Ruler of a Tiny Realm

..and I DO mean tiny.

Well, one thing that’s the same in MN as NJ is the PO. O-Y!

I filled out passport applications a while ago for the family, but we were lacking photos. Since passports are now required for travel to Canada, and since I have to go there in July, I decided this might be a good time to complete the applications. I figured I’d do my passport now because I need mine first, and do the kids at the start of Summer (these things are PRICEY!)

So last evening Hannah, Maxie and I traipsed off to CVS for some fine passport photos. Max looked like a mini-IRA terrorist in his photo, but aside from that they were fine. Then today, en route to some out-of-St. Paul-shopping I needed to get done, I ventured to a small PO in a small town (not my designated PO) to turn in my application.

The guy behind the counter at the PO was – not to put too fine a point on it – a real Cliff Claven type. He was obviously the kind of guy who enjoyed being master of his domain, and telling everyone else how to do whatever it was they needed to do. And he loved the sound of his own voice.

When I presented my application & birth certificate & all the other stuff to him, he said that the photos were too fuzzy. I’d only planned on submitting my application at this time, but I showed him the kids’ photos too, to see if he thought they were too fuzzy. Yep. Fuzzy, fuzzy and fuzzy. Okay, fine, I’ll get the photos retaken – no big deal – no rush. I felt cool about it.

But – not understanding that I was making a huge request – I asked him if he would write a note for me to give to the folks at CVS so I could get a refund and get new pictures taken.

His response was very wordy, “Well, here’s what you want to do, you want to go to X post office, have them take the pictures, blah blah blah, yada yada yada…”

As he rambled on I said, “Uh, yeah – okay – I’ll probably just get them done at CVS – can I get that note?”

This made him angry. I wasn’t drinking in his pearls of wisdom. And it must have seemed that I interrupted him since he never came up for air.

A woman who had been in line earlier and was standing to the side chimed in, “At the post office they’ll charge you $15, I just went to Walgreens, it’s $7 there.” I responded that $15 was “totally ridiculous” (another thing which didn’t endear me to Mr. PO) and he – obviously feeling threatened that someone besides himself was offering advice in a government office, said in a very loud voice, “Uh, it’s kind of hard for me to tell you what you need to do if you’re not going to listen.”

To which I responded, “You know, you could be nicer.” Oops.

And that’s when he ripped up the note he was grudgingly writing (“I’ve never had to write a note for anyone before…”) Jerk.

When I asked him – and wrote down – the name of his supervisor, he told me that when I did get my photos, NOT to come back to HIS Post Office because he would refuse to serve me because he didn’t like my attitude. “I’m the Passport Clerk and I can choose to deny service to anyone I like.”


I was absolutely, TOTALLY cool about getting new photos – honest! I had all my paperwork, and was respectful to the man (until he became loud and aggressive.) But I didn’t bow to his knowledge as deeply as he would have liked, and had the nerve to criticize the outrageous prices the PO charges for passport photos, and – oops – pointed out that he could be nicer.

So I’ll go to another post office. It’s not a huge deal, and there’s one much closer to my house with passport hours tomorrow morning.

How evil, though, that a person’s ability to get a passport hinges on one jerk’s easily punctured ego? Give someone a little bit of power and sometimes it goes to their – head.

Eh. At least it gave me an excuse to have a good steaming anger-cry in the car in the parking lot.

When I returned the photos to CVS the guy there was really nice – and stunned to hear about my experience. He’s been dealing with me now for 2 months, seeing me and/or the kids just about every day as we pick up milk or prescriptions or soap, and so far all dealings have been extremely pleasant.

So it ended with a bit of a reality check from the nice guy at CVS “That guy must be a jerk – leave it to the government…” , and the happy knowledge that I never have to visit that PO (or that town) again if I don’t want to.

Back to the knitting – and with any luck tomorrow I’ll have something really cool to show you!

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