Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Carolyn is more suspicious than I am

by Rob - February 22nd, 2007.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

So, on February 6, I went to the local Canadian passport office, to renew my Canadian passport; the office is upstairs in a mall near my home.

I noticed as I entered the office that there was a sign on the outside wall of the office advertising a place in mall that took passport photos. Odd, I thought: you need to have your passport photos in advance of coming in, because the back of one of them has to be signed by your guarantor; nobody could show up at the office still needing photos, unless, maybe, they were just popping in to pick up the forms (which you can pick up lots of other more convenient places, such as post offices).

I waited a couple of hours for my number to be called (writing away on my laptop, of course!), went up to one of the clerks, and presented my old passport, birth certificate, completed application, and photos.

“These photos are pretty bad,” the clerk said. I thought he was making the standard joke that if you look like your passport photo, you’re not well enough to travel — and I said as much.

“No,” he said, “you should get them re-done.” I protested that the photos had been taken by the Canadian Automobile Association; they take tons of passport photos, and surely these met the required specifications.

“No, there’s a shadow,” the clerk said. “Where?” asked I. “Well, you can’t see it in this light, but it’s there — they might reject this at the head office. Are you sure you don’t want to go downstairs and get another set of photos taken?”

“If you can point to what’s actually wrong with these photos, so that I can see it, all right,” I said, “but I want to see what’s wrong so that if the same thing’s wrong with the new ones I can tell the photographer on the spot.”

“Well,” he reiterated, “you can’t see it, but there’s a shadow behind your head; it’ll make your ears look longer, and they might reject your passport applicaton — then you’ll have to come back and stand in line again. But you don’t have to stand in line here again if you get new photos today; I’ll give you a card that’ll get you to the front of the line when you come back.”

I declined — if he couldn’t show me what was wrong, I said I was willing to take my chances. And, of course, my passport showed up today via registered mail, having sailed through the rest of the process.

Me, I just thought the clerk was being an officious twerp, and I don’t have a lot of patience with such people. But Carolyn thinks the clerk was getting kickbacks from the photographer in the mall. That had never occurred to me; she’s more suspicious than I am.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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