Can you see me??!?!??!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Anecdotal Evidence 5.

On identity, ageing and risk.

I had an appointment to renew my Australian passport. One of the few things I've ever done with 6 months to spare. I required 2 passport photos and $188.00 (and my passport). I needed a haircut and was getting over a cold.

America's great. You can have passport photos taken at Walgreens. Under the fluorescent lights in front of a pull-down screen in front of some groceries. By someone from behind the counter. Some of whom are having bad days.

I like working on Clement Street. It's the real Chinatown and the food is super. I've found an incredible butcher, and the Walgreens. Went in to get 2 passport photos at lunchtime the day before my appointment. Screen was revealed, camera was grabbed, I was given a stool because I was taller than her. She showed me the photo. You will never see that photo. She stepped back and took another. You won't see that one either. I bought the third. But you will never see it.

After work, I stopped in at the Hayes Valley Walgreens. Found the secret-ish car park. Popped on a bit of lippy, put my hair up. Found photo lady. Screen down, Click, This OK? Fuck! Er, no. (Put hair down. Tousled.) Click. How about? JESUS. One more? Click. ? I'll take it.

(You'll never see it.)

Huffed home. Brgh. Concerned about the longevity of this picture and the surprising bust before me.

My appointment was for 9:30 the next morning. I could find a park, then Walgreens, then ATM then Consulate by then!! 2010 is the year I discovered mascara. I applied it. And lippy. And blow-dried my hair. And wore something dark with a higher neck. Shook hair. Took the first photo I paid for from yesterday, in case of disaster.

Forgot that part of Market Street's closed. Turn right. Can't get past Mission and 5th. Turn right. Two big blocks. Busy. Howard. 2nd. Mission. Quick left into a car park. $2.13 for the first hour. Score! Done.

9:17. Got cash on Market.

9:19. Walgreens on Sansome. Recognised photo lady. She was having a bad day. But! I had decided I was going to smile in this one. I was neutral in the others and... well. They were shit. I had practiced the smallest (level) smile. Got it down. Screen down. Stool. Ready? Smile! Click. OK? I'LL TAKE IT. That'll be ten minutes. Ten minutes?


9:31. Yoink! To Consulate. Through ground floor guard. (I almost called him a concierge.) Up lift. Ring bell. Door opens. Smiled at stranger. No staff. Has anyone seen you? I asked. Yep. Australian woman behind the glass. Haow can oi help yeeou? I'm here to renew my passport. Take a seat.


Minimum of fuss. Got car. Headed for work. Decided I'd better go to the DMV to get my license renewed since it expired on the 17th. They'd asked me to prove my US intentions some weeks back. Took me a while to make passport copies and post, but I'd done it. Hadn't gotten a letter about the renewal, so figured I had to go in person. Texted Lance at work to let him know.

Pulling in to the car park, I considered they might surveil people there to catch the miscreants who were driving without a license. Car park was crowded. Did 2 laps then nabbed a free parking spot on the street. Score!

9:49. Passed hot dog stand. Entered DMV. By Christ, what a dog's breakfast. There's no way they were looking in the car park. Lines everywhere. Full of people. About... twenty visible staff. START HERE. I'd like to renew my driver's license, please. Tap tap. Fill out this form.

I look for a place to write. Nothing obvious. Find counter. Find pen in bag. Complete form. Form line. There's a woman holding a form the same as mine in the parallel line towards to Checkpoint 2. She looks back to the man behind her. Is this the line? He mumbles something. My line's moving. Fast! I gesture to her to cut in. She cuts in. Not even a thank you. She wasn't nasty or anything. Just looked like a starving mouse.

Passed Checkpoint 2. I am G136. Walked to a seat amongst many. Searching for gaps. By golly gosh, who are all these people. Sat between an old man and a woman flirting with the man next to her.

Calling G47 to Counter 13. G47.


I started feeling guilty about not being at work. Pulled out my notebook.

1. Lending
2. Wayback layout/realign
3. 5 layouts
4. biblio system redesign
5. LP scanning UI
6. Hire Python programmer
7. Interview [redacted] (phone)
8. relationship
9. LSTA grant
10. OL - Lists
11. OL - stability
12. OL - robustness
13. Wikimania
14. The Future of Reading
15. Book Drive bookplate
- yawn, I'm G136. Been here almost 2 hours. Now at G108
16. OL - help Ops work with us
- cheap suit mustachioed sleazebag wanders by stroking his 5 day shadow
- rich girl with loud shoes loses her cool. Gets monotone smackdown. Window 17
- Happy chap in purple jacket offers $10 for G111
- Rich girl's reaching across Window 17 to the computer screen. Two staff attend.
- Crowd/audience/queue look wanderers up and down.
- Staff avert gazes
- Crowd/Audience/Queue giggle toward Rich Girl
- large ring. cowboy boots, shiny belt buckle, wiry salt and pepper swagger
- Not even a timelapse would be interesting
- Plaid American nerd type staff man has OCD. Inadvertent gurns and twitches. Repetitive touching
- Everybody's watching him struggle to open a box of license plates
- Toupée!
- Starved mouse beat me
- All of a sudden, there's more noise.
- The lady who speaks the numbers has a perky 20.

G133. G134. G135!



I need to renew my license, please. She reads my form. Please fill out this question then sign here. I missed a bit? Checkpoint 1 missed it! I've been sitting here all this time with an ERROR?! Have you had one of the 340 diseases listed in the attachment in the last year? Skim. Check no. Sign here? Yes. Signed. Tap tap.

It says mumble mumble. Yes. I posted the paperwork some weeks ago. I have my passport. I'll be right back. I have to make a copy.

You need to have a new photo taken. Place your thumb on the red square. Step behind the line. Big Smile! Click. Hope. Pay. Done.

Got a parking ticket. Went to work.
Posted at 7:36 am

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