Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Love I-R-E-L-A-N-D!

Tickets in hand, I thought there was nothing left to worry about other than what to pack.


Perusal of the fine print brought me bolt upright (from a relaxed, no worries posture.) Who knew that our destination requires that one's passport be valid for six months after one's return? Realizing that one is short of that mark by two months, one began to feel faint.

 Some deep breathing was deployed to restore one's equilibrium and attempt some logical thought.

What to do? Brainwave incoming ----Google, Google, Google! 

Obtained phone number for Irish Consulate in Atlanta. Logical, right? Called said consulate. Listened dejectedly to recorded message directing me to call consulate in NY instead.

Had I really hoped, expected, a human being to pick up the phone?  Actually, yes. I'm Irish.
An eternal optimist.

Called NY. No human beings available. Leave a message.

Left a message, being careful to b-r-e-a-t-h-e so as to sound cool, calm and collected, not frantic, which is how I felt. How many weeks would it be before a Leprecaun called me back? In my mind's eye I saw a long list of phone messages from Americans eager to travel to the Auld Sod and dig around for their roots. I figured my message was # 347 in the lineup.

Pulled my thinking cap down lower over my ears, the better to hear any Plan Bs my brain might suggest.
Silence for a while, then a humming sound as an alternate plan slowly took shape. 
Back to the web site and e-mail the blighters.

I then busy myself deleting old e-mails and general in-box housekeeping, when, quick as a blink, there's a reply! Addressing me by my first name no less, and instructing me to send my address asap so they can send me the necessary application.

I'm tempted to send hugs and kisses. 
Instead I reply with the requested information, adding that, being used to the bureaucracy and the slow movement of great bodies, I'm ecstatic at their speedy response.

I'm just pushing send when the phone rings. I glance at the caller I.D. All that registers is "Consulate..."  My heart jumps into my mouth from surprise and delight as I pick up the phone.

 Charles is his name. His accent solid Irish. He sounds a little bored, like it's been a long day and he's beyond ready to go home for his dinner. He tells me they will send the application and instructions as soon as I send them my address. I'm so full of plawmawss I think it cheers him up a bit. He laughs outright when I tell him he should be grateful I'm not there in person as I'd be hugging him.

"Don't worry," he assures me, "We'll get you a fast track renewal and you'll have it in plenty of time."

I am especially impressed, since, a few years ago, I tried to renew my green card on line and was scammed out of my fee by some fly-by-night organization, sounding very official but being, in fact, a bunch of thieves. It was a tortuous tangle and a thoroughly unpleasant experience.

Have I mentioned how much I love Ireland?


Elephant's Child said...

How lovely. For you, and to hear that efficiency and consideration DO exist. Thank you.

Relatively Retiring said...

I hope it all works smoothly for you. That six month business on the passport seems ridiculous - surely it's either valid or not? I'm glad I won't be using mine again.

Wisewebwoman said...

Yes, I had a similar experience with the Irish Embassy in Ottawa. Same day service as I drove up once it was ready.

Bureaucracy has a lot to learn from such efficiency. Enjoy your time there, I had a blast a few weeks ago.


StitchinByTheLake said...

My husband and I went to Ireland in July...your country sure captured my heart. :) blessings, marlene

molly said...

EC --- It's nice to find out that sometimes there's a human, listening, behind all the technology and bureaucracy.

RR --- It certainly threw me for a loop as I had checked and been satisfied that my passport was still valid. I think we have to get all the wanderlust out of our systems soon as I find myself longing to be home after shorter and shorter spells away!

WWW --- I don't think the six months after applies to travel to Ireland. Glad you enjoyed your trip!

Stitchin' --- You just didn't stay long enough M!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Renewing one's passport is so easy to forget ... after all , how often is it used ?
I once sent my two older children off to Switzerland on a completely out of date one . Luckily , being unaccompanied children , they were whisked through passport control by a stewardess and no one noticed .

Lee said...

I think you probably love Charlie better at the present moment!

It was good also to hear that the whole human race hadn't gone on holidays and a real person answered you! Great service!

I can imagine your anxiety, Molly...I would have been going through similar.

dianne said...

your brain is so doggone smart, Molly! mine would have shut down after the Initial Shock and forgotten to hit restart ... there is a soundtrack inside my head that repeats "what-to-do-what-to-do-what-to-do" loudly and incessantly...

on another note, orange is ONE of my favorite colors, but i wouldn't want to leave out green and pink and purple ... and blue ... and yellow and red (but not Kansas City Chiefs' red) and white and black and (sometimes) brown...

Friko said...

I have the faint suspicion that Ireland is high on your list of favourite countries. I wonder why?

Secret Agent Woman said...

Whew! Glad that worked out so well!

Thimbleanna said...

IRELAND! You're going home soon -- how exciting!!! Will there be a side trip to see the grandbabies???

I can just imagine how your heart lurched when you read the fine print. Probably just like mine did when, at the check-in counter for my flight to Australia, they asked for my Visa. WHAT VISA??? No one told ME about a VISA!!! Luckily, money solves all problems -- pay the fee and poof! in this digital age, they can whip one up right away!

molly said...

S&S -- That would have sent me into panic mode for sure, picturing my children lost in passport limbo, never to be allowed home again....Glad there was a sensible stewardess on duty that day.

Lee -- It's more reassuring, to the likes of me, to hear from a human being than all the recordings in the universe. I trust people, don't much trust machines!

Dianne -- Hold on a minute there....Orange?? Green my dear. But of course I'm forgetting the color that has dominated your recent posts!

Friko --- That one's a no-brainer. But it may interest you to know that Germany is also very high on my favorite places list.

SAW -- Yup. There's enough stress in life without finding I had a ticket to travel but was going nowhere!

Anna -- There seems to be a slight misunderstanding here. I'm not actually going to Ireland, at least not this trip, and will probably not see those cuties in the UK this time around.....As for visas, I had a minor meltdown about that too when the itinerary said a visa was required. But I calmed down when I was told it can be obtained when we arrive. It will be necessary I'm sure to cross someone's palm with silver! As you say, money solves many problems.

molly said...

The reason I love Ireland, among many others, is that it was so easy to talk to someone at the consulate. Easy in that they actually responded speedily to my phone message and my e-mail. Lesser bodies than the Irish Consulate in NY, which I'm sure is a busy place, have driven me to distraction with how long they'll take to get back to you!