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“Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo”
-Al Gore

With the enthusiasm of a freshly minted boy scout, I set out to “be prepared” for the upcoming trip with a passport renewal. Previous experience with long passport lines, rejected ID, and long processing periods meant that I wasn’t about to leave anything to chance. Recently wed, I faced the added complication of a name change. Ah, the delight of filling out government forms, weaving and ducking through red tape, and interpreting obscure instructions with the finesse of an anglophone purist reading hieroglyphics.

With paperwork complete, guarantor signatures in place, two pieces of government issued identification in-hand, and everything triple checked, I approached the security guard at the door with the requisite $87, took a number and sat down to wait. After an unexpectedly short time (only running out to plug the parking meter once), paperwork was checked,  and payment taken with the promise that passports would arrive in mail before Christmas. How civilized passport renewals could be!

Sure enough, December 22 – an early christmas gift – a shiny new passport arrived via Canada Post registered mail. In the midst of the holiday hubub, I quickly opened the envelope, checked that my new name was on it, then proceeded to continue packing bags, wrapping presents, and finishing last minute Christmas shopping. The passport was forgotten.

Christmas came and went. Presents stowed away, tree taken down, and life resumes to a normal pace, with the added seasonal bonus of Tyler bringing back a nasty flu from BC. Too sick to go into work one day, he stayed home, providing me with occasional updates of household happenings via phone. His second phone call of the day brought dire news:

“I have bad news”
“What?”
“Davey chewed on your passport” (Davey’s my cat)
“Okay?”
“He chewed through the cover and through the first three pages.”

In short order, it was determined that yes, I would have to reapply, PLUS fill out a declaration of damage, PLUS get the declaration signed and sealed by a lawyer. Off I trudged to London Drugs to get new passport photos and start the process over again.

Taking the morning off to stop into the lawyer’s office, I approached the passport office with optimism. This time though, the nice blonde lady who smiled and asked me where I was travelling to was replaced with a stern, furrowed-brow, finger-wagger who insisted on a play-by-play description of exactly how my feline got a hold of, and proceeded to undertake, alleged document damage.

“You should be more careful with your passport,” she scowled as I signed and dated the page-long explanation.

“I know! I didn’t have a chance to lock it in my armageddon-proof bomb shelter before we left for the holidays” (is what I would have liked to say).

“Well, this will result in a strike against you. If you have your passport lost, stolen, or damaged within five years, you will receive a second strike which means you are an official security risk”

“Stupid cat”

“Well, you should be more careful”

“Thanks, I will”

Dear Canada Post: Please don’t lose my passport in the mail. If you do, I’m doomed to be that poor blacklisted traveller taken into the back room of every airport I step into.

PS No cats were harmed in the processing of this passport application
Update: Passport arrived and is stowed safely in cat-proof container

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